Goodbye Reality, Hello Smartphones

I’m not such a huge fan of smartphones lately.

Sure, smartphones can be great. You can easily look up restaurants in new locations or find directions or play games. Interwebs at your fingertips nearly at all times, etc.

Normally people have issues with the effect smartphones have on our in-person conversations. I’m not too keen on the reduction in real conversations, but right now the biggest thing irking me about smartphones is something else, though it is related.

Smartphones are removing people from reality. Instead of following road signs, people stare down at their smartphones trying to figure out what a map means. Instead of looking up and around for a Perkins that the highway signs said was off this exit, people stare down at their phones saying, “It’s to your left!” or shouting, “It’s to your right!” often incorrectly. It would be a lot more efficient just to use your eyes to look at the real world and find the Perkins in real life.

What I’m trying to say is smartphones create overly dependent people. It’s almost as if they completely eradicate any semblance of the ability to read a map. People cease to be able to orient themselves on a paper or even digital map without the help of a “You Are Here” sign or a little blue dot indicating their location. I can pick up an atlas and figure out a driving route and probably get a good idea of where I am, but I don’t think most of my smartphone-carrying friends and family can. Maybe a few years ago, before their iPhones became their constant companions, but not today.

Smartphones are useful tools, but they’re also destructive of useful real-world skills. Navigational skills are important, and being able to find your way without GPS is always going to be an invaluable tool. The ability to read highway signs to figure out food choices and restaurant locations is valuable, too. UrbanSpoon isn’t always right about what is and is not available, but those highway signs are usually kept relatively up-to-date. We should not let reality and the skills to survive in reality fall by the wayside because an iPhone can do it for us – especially given inconsistent internet speeds and imperfect information on the internet.

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3 thoughts on “Goodbye Reality, Hello Smartphones

  1. Jimi says:

    The whole GPS thing really has me boggled. I use one every now and again to get me somewhere I need to go when I am unsure of where it is, however I am by no means dependent on it. Most of the time when my wife and I are out riding around we will take random turns to find a different route home or to our destination.

    People are to dependent on their GPS systems as can be seen in the news from various accidents blamed on GPS devices (driving the wrong way down a one way road) or following the GPS religiously (best word for this situation, ironic I know) and winding up in a lake.

  2. ReasonBeing says:

    My wife and I just drove from MN to Texas. After the third error looking for a Starbucks on our phones we very much came to the same conclusion you are writing about. We become dependent on them instead of using our heads. So, we decided to use our heads, stopped at a gas station, wrote down directions and enjoyed a cup of coffee.

    • My sister told me there was no Denny’s in Rochester, MN based on UrbanSpoon. This is despite the fact that I had already looked it up on Denny’s website (via my not-so-smart-but-still-internet-capable phone) and there were multiple highway signs indicating the presence of Denny’s. Needless to say there is a Denny’s in Rochester, MN.

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