Since the invention of the first reed pen, humans have externalized memory storage. Our brains can only memorize so much, and writing stuff down on sticky notes, using a reference book, or taking a list to the store are all ways we humans offload memory to make our lives easier.
Smartphones and tablets take this to a whole new level.
How many parents will send their kids off to college this fall and realize they don’t know their own child’s phone number because it’s been stored as a contact under “Chloe” for the past five years? Smart tech makes life easier in many ways, but some people think it’s ultimately making us stupider. True or not, you can’t deny that people do some pretty dumb things with their smart devices. Here are 5 of them.
1. Taking a Selfie Rather Than Looking in a Mirror
There’s an argument that the selfie is actually better than a mirror in some respects. With a mirror, you’re looking at, of course, a mirror image of yourself, while a selfie shows the you everyone else sees. But a good mirror doesn’t have lens distortions and represents colors better. And it’s hard for most people to get a full-length selfie without their feet looking as if they’re miles away. But perhaps the best argument for using a mirror is that your mirror won’t accidentally upload that unflattering selfie to the web for the world to see.
2. Using Them Instead of Windows
We’re not talking about the Microsoft kind. We’re talking about the real kind. Have you ever sat in your cubicle at work, about to go out for lunch and wondered if it was raining? Then, rather than looking out a window, you clicked on your weather app and looked at the radar? Of course, your weather app is great for letting you know things like, “It’s not raining this minute, but a shower is moving in within the next 15 minutes, so you better take your raincoat.” But once your app habit has its claws in you, you may find yourself checking your phone rather than looking out the window before making the 10-step journey to your home mailbox on your day off.
3. Being Too Cheap to Pay for an App That Delivers
We drop hundreds of dollars on smart devices, but when it comes to buying apps, we can become the biggest skinflints since Gogol’s Plyushkin. We’ll continue to send misspelled texts typed on tiny keypads rather than part with a couple of bucks on Swiftkey, or feel our blood pressure soaring as we plod from app to app rather than drop a fiver on Link Bubble to save our sanity. And then when the next generation device comes out, we’re all excited about forking over another few hundred so we’ll have a more advanced device on which to not buy apps.
4. Getting Notified About Every Single Thing in the World
Games, social networking, and email apps are happy to notify you about everything ever. And some notifications actually are important. But do you really need your smartphone to make a noise or vibrate every time someone on your Facebook feed sneezes? Notification overload (and the resulting notification fatigue) can happen to anyone, because many apps set default notifications that are excessive. But it doesn’t take that much time to turn off notifications and make it so the ones you get are the ones you care about. You’ll find yourself much less annoyed at the end of the day once you get your notifications under control.
5. Turning a Phone Into a Virtual Lighter at Concerts
This is exactly what it sounds like. And it’s not some novelty thing a 15-year-old somewhere thought up as a joke. There are lots of choices in virtual concert lighter apps, some of them with special effects, like lightning. One could make an argument that lighter apps are safer than the real thing in an arena packed with sweaty, hypnotized fans, but really? A virtual flame? What will they think of next, a virtual high five where you slap a palm photo on your phone with your friend’s palm photo? Stranger things have happened …