We all face the same challenge: modernity! Baby boomers might have had a heyday with fun gadgets like the Swiss Army Knife, but we are pretty much the last generation to grow up without smartphones. Larry Lefkowitz isn’t letting that stop him. He has embraced his phone, and wouldn’t go back. Instead, he calls it his new Swiss Army Knife.
I don’t wear a watch anymore. I don’t carry a calculator. I don’t keep a flashlight in my car. I don’t have a portable MP3 player. I don’t watch the news or weather on TV. I don’t carry a notepad to meetings. I don’t have pictures in my wallet. I don’t have to look at maps or use a GPS device.
Have I become a hermit? Far from it. I simply possess one of the greatest inventions of all time: the smartphone. Yes, I realize that an entire infrastructure was needed for this invention to blossom and become all the things, and more, that I just mentioned. It was that way with the automobile, too. And the telephone (you remember that clunky thing hanging on the wall?).
But these things happen gradually and expand rapidly when a market, and profits, are realized. The smartphone is the Swiss Army Knife of the 21st Century. Its capabilities are spectacular and never-ending. It has more memory to run applications (“apps,” which used to just be called programs back in the old days) than most spacecraft had when they launched in the mid-to-late 20th Century. It hears you, it does your bidding, it pays your bills, it lights your way, it entertains you, and it links you with any part of the world so quickly it seems magical.
Some people become irritated with the current generation being tied, glued, inseparable, from their smartphones, and to some degree, I understand this. But this is a culture that grew up knowing nothing of manual communication, or worse, no communication. Some argue that this insidious device is robbing youngsters of people-skills and that an entire generation is in the midst of becoming digitally communicative only, and even then, in shorthand. I cannot argue with this as I, too, see danger in kids being buried in their phones and never understanding the English Language. But this can be overcome with education and it has to be, because the smartphone is not going away. At least not until Planet Earth gets bombarded with giant gamma bursts. But then, almost every electronic device will succumb to such a cosmic attack.
There are shortcomings to advanced technology, for sure. Adjustments must be made, accommodations compromised, benefits weighed against shortfalls. But for me, the benefits outweigh the shortfalls. The smartphone is a marvel that it has eliminated many other devices and institutions, like mail, calculators, voice recorders, cameras, flashlights, encyclopedias, scanners, and many others.
I sat outside this morning, sipping coffee, while I read my email, looked at the news, listened to music, and checked on the weather — all on my phone. For all the naysayers, you should rethink what a life enhancement this invention is and how it enriches, informs, and simplifies our lives.
What’s next? Beam me up, Scotty!