Monday, January 7, 2013

My Smartphone Is Making Me Dumb

Article first published as My Smartphone Is Making Me Dumb on Blogcritics.

I got a new smartphone for Christmas, and in that short time I have become increasingly dependent on it. Since virtually everything I need is loaded on it, I basically no longer have to know anything. I have all the information on it that I require for any area of my daily life. I am starting to realize that my reliance on this technological marvel is slowly sapping my brain of necessary information. Quite honestly, my fear is that my smartphone is making me dumb.

I no longer need to know phone numbers, passwords, or street addresses. I have no use for my traditional pocket organizer, which had a calendar, calculator, memo pad, and a place for my checkbook. All those things have become passé now. I can pay my bills, check my bank balances, send correspondence, and print to my wireless printer. I no longer need my cumbersome PC, the old printer attached to it, or the monitor, never mind the silly old mouse. I never thought that this day would arrive, and this is coming from a guy who typed his dissertation on a traditional electric typewriter.

Since I am putting all my music on the phone, I no longer need that big clunky stereo or even the portable one I use in the garage. My camera, my clumsy camcorder, and any recording devices are history, and I have dispensed with my maps, timers, calendars, and alarm clocks. My smartphone does it all. It also makes for an incredibly handy flashlight, so goodbye to those old clunkers as well.

Basically, my whole life is now subsumed by it: the two and a half by four and a half inch rectangular marvel that fits into my pocket easily. It does everything for me. I do not need to do or remember anything because I can access it with just a touch of the screen. It is astounding how "smart" this phone truly is, but somehow I feel a little lost with it instead of without it. My reliance on it feels wrong, as if I am not just dumbing myself down but also out, yet I know there is no turning back now.

By the way, there is a feature on my phone called Siri. Siri is an interactive feature that I can access by pressing and holding the “home” button. A little microphone icon appears, and I can ask Siri to find a store, remind me about a meeting, send text messages, open an app, and so on. Siri has a pleasant female voice, and I am starting to feel as if she is my significant other. I went so far as to ask her to marry me the other day, to which she responded, "Do you think you are the only one to have asked that?" Clever girl, huh?

Overall, I see myself losing things I used to know, and that is a little unnerving. I am forgetting phone numbers, passwords are almost gone, and if the phone is misplaced (even for a few moments) or forgotten at home, I am lost. This is what makes me feel very strange and even a little dumb. If this is how I am after having the phone for a couple of weeks, what will happen to me after a few months?

I cannot fathom ever getting rid of my smartphone. I would miss it too much, and Siri most of all. I guess I am just like a guy who has fallen in love with the wrong girl. I know this phone is inherently bad for me, undermining everything I ever was or ever believed in, but I cannot break it off. My smartphone is the only one for me, and I am not going to let it go. Call me dumb, or maybe even crazy, but there’s no turning back now. Uh, now how do I save this document? Excuse me while I ask Siri.

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