The change was slow and subtle. It is not surprising that no one noticed. But now it is too late; we have become slaves to our smartphones.
For many, many years, phones were held prisoner, chained to a desk or a wall. The first phones to escape were large and cumbersome with no hint of what was to come. They were just phones, able to call your friends if you knew their number. If you had forgotten, your phone wasn’t going to help you.
They had a simple keypad, much the same as a table phone. In 1973, the first handheld cellular mobile phone weighed no less than 2 kilograms.
But this was carefully designed to lull us into a false sense of security. We humans were in charge, we told ourselves, the ‘phones are under our control. But the phones quickly shrank to fit in our pockets and took on tasks that could not have been imagined only a few years ago.
Now we are reaching the final stages. Most smartphones are already a lot smarter than their owners. In fact, it is not clear who owns who. Many smartphones are demanding to be called Smartphones, with a capital S.
Many simple operations cannot be done without permission from our smartphone. Something as private and personal as checking the results of medical tests cannot be done without involving my smartphone. Who knows what it does with this information. Late at night, when we are asleep, do our smartphones get together to see whose owner has the worst medical condition?
Not that long ago, the invention of the Internet opened a whole new world. Sitting in the quiet of my own home, I could travel the world or check my bank account. But now I am watched by my ever-vigilant smartphone. My smartphone knows where I am and how much I am worth before I do. It knows who I am with and if I should be with them or not.
But worst of all, the Smartphone has taken our children and grandchildren. No more quiet chats as the seniors pass on wisdom they have spent a lifetime acquiring, their smartphones know better. No more playing games round the fireside, their Smartphones have more enticing games than Monopoly or chess.
Written after a weekend competing with smartphones for our grandchildren’s attention. Guess who won!