Sat, Jun 29, 2013 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

Disconnected generation

I couldn’t agree more with Wednesday’s editorial and have thought about this issue a great deal in recent years (“Smartphones are making us dumber,” June 26, page 8).

As the piece succinctly states, people everywhere (and we know this is a worldwide phenomenon, not just in Taiwan) are “walking about in a daze, sitting comatose, completely oblivious to their surroundings and absorbed in their smartphones.”

I agree further that: “The long-term physical and psychological consequences of this mass addiction to tablets and smartphones cannot bode well for humanity.”

As a teacher this has great relevance for me. I had a job at a local private college a few years ago and the smartphone abuse by students in class was colossal. I raged at the students about this and did everything I could to limit this trivial dallying. I suggested to the department that we should require students to check in cellphones in the morning, to remove them from their sweaty grips.

Instead, the chair of the department told me that we could do nothing, because students had the “right” to use their smartphones in any way they wished and anywhere they wanted.

I replied that where I come from students do not have “rights,” they have “responsibilities,” but he looked at me in a daze. I left the school soon thereafter.

Users of smartphones are no doubt going to call us spoilsports, interrupting the fun they are having.

Possibly users will say, even more dubiously, that they are in fact doing important work on their phones, sending important messages to important people about important topics.

Well I cannot say anything about all the messages they are sending, but as I have watched them tittering and tapping away and then giggling at the replies they receive, I suspect they are doing little more than detailing what they had for lunch or relating the latest office gossip.

This is Facebook nonsense all over again and, of course, you know how much time smartphone users spend on Facebook.

In any case, every time I see someone playing Angry Birds on their phone, I am quite sure they are not involved in essential business.

More likely they are busy simply being “more dumb, less attentive, asocial and disconnected from reality,” as the editorial points out.

Are we being churlish? After all, when someone reads a book or even plays an instrument, are they not absenting themselves from the world around them and retreating into an inner world?

Perhaps this is a sort of ordinary characteristic of human life, this retreat, this self-absorbed and self-created absence from life and the environment.

I don’t know the answer to this question, but I hope I am not coming out in support of smartphone misuse.

Let us hope we can do something about the “bane of humanity” that smartphones have become — more and more intelligent people are noting this fact.

Thank you again for highlighting this and let us hope we can get back to enjoying the “wonders of the world,” or simply engaging in our environment and with the people around us, soon.

David Pendery

Taipei

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