Looking Down – the Joy of using a Smart Phone

I will admit it. I’m fed up to the back teeth about the backlash against smart phone use recently.  Not just from my husband (that old chestnut) but also from …..ummmm social media.

You may have seen this you tube post on Facebook and Twitter called “Look Up” . Hell, you may have even shared it.  You might have even written “Oh this is a must watch. Everyone can learn from this”.  I do hope you didn’t share it whilst on your SMART PHONE people.  Oh the irony.

I just hate the fact everyone moans about everyone being on their phones, usually through posts on their phones, when we really have to just learn to live with the fact that they aren’t going away.

Which brings to me the BEST things about using your smart phone.  It’s nice to look up but there is a lot to be gained from LOOKING DOWN.

It’s not just Social Media that people use Phones for.

Social media is my gateway to news articles, political issues, magazine articles, online content, blogs.  Basically I don’t buy magazines or newspapers, but I can access most things on my smart phone and I do.  My head is down because I’m reading about FGM in Egypt or getting to grips with the conflict in Syria, because someone has blogged an easy to read article.  If I had a newspaper on my lap, apparently that’s alright is it?

I access the BBC website daily on my phone.  It’s the only way I get to find out about the news because I’m at work too early, have dinner at 6pm and can often go to bed before the 10pm news.

 It’s Great for Kids

Obviously, the important thing here is “moderation”. My kids love using it, but it’s a real treat for them, a great bargaining tool and is a great educational tool.  Obviously alongside all the other great things about childhood like schooling, sport, countryside and conversation.  It’s just one more useful tool for them.  My daughter improved her letter writing using a phonetics game on my ipad, when she was struggling.  It felt like she was playing a game. I don’t think I would have had the same enthusiasm from her at the dinner table with a pencil and me.

The video talks about “Swings hanging still.  No kids in the playground.” I just don’t believe this has ANYTHING to do with social media.  My children (3 and 6) would choose the playground over a smart phone any day of the week.  I imagine most children would up to a certain age.  The playgrounds are very very busy whenever I see them. Lunch time they are empty….because duh, it’s lunch.  They are busy just after school pick up. Weekends around here, it’s hell at a playground. queuing for the swings and slides. I get really fed up people think children are at home being zombies.  I have yet to see any evidence of this.   I really don’t get it.

Whilst we are on the subject, I get really bloody irate at everyone talking about the hey day of their bloody childhood.  The Golden Years is a psychological state of mind.  Our parents did it, their parents did it, their parents before them did it.  I spent an hour or two every week on the Commodore 64 (yes, I’m that old), I also played weird new zippy games that had parts to it and hours and hours playing Barbie dolls by myself.  None of which my parents did.  My mum and dad were always trying to shove me out of the house. I did go out, for hours down our BIG garden, but it’s not different to now.  WE are having the SAME conversations with our kids. Their toys are more sophisticated, as will their children’s and their children’s children.  Get over it!

 It’s Improved my Social Life

I am an introvert.  I will choose home over every other option open to me.  I hate meeting new people (although I appreciate that you have to sometimes to find new friends) and I have children and very few babysitting options.  For me, chatting on Facebook or to people on Twitter has opened my eyes to a new kind of friendship.  It’s not deep but it’s supportive.  I know a lot of gregarious people over the years that had a tonne of friends who they met up with socially in pubs and clubs but had no more understanding of who they were or anything deeper than I have with my twitter friends.  I knew one guy who constantly slagged of his loads of mates.  Just because they live in my phone, doesn’t make it any less important.

It’s Supportive and DOES show the good and bad times

The second point on the video was about not sharing the bad times and creating a great veneer of a life via social media.  You’ve obviously never seen my bloody Facebook timeline then. It is a pit of whinge, disaster, personal sadness and insecurity.  It is also a place where I get to celebrate the good times with people, watch lifelong journeys happen and join in with watching families grow despite being 10,000 miles away.

I Have Learnt so Much

Through the blogging community, twitter, articles and news feeds I have learnt so much.   I have read more feminist articles than you can poke a stick at, rounding my views, focussing my arguments.  I have glimpsed, through bloggers, a small understanding of what it is like to raise special needs children, disabled children or just challenging children.  This has not only taught me empathy, but has shown to be useful for me in real life.  I know the right things to say, the things to avoid saying and the attitudes to take. I have no one close to me with these family challenges, so I couldn’t have learnt any other way.

I have connected to a lot of people on Twitter that have proved useful to my life.  Connecting to someone who runs a website about moving out of London has been a great source of information for me.  All of which I read via my phone.

I have also learnt that I use bobby pins the wrong way up, that too many people are being drawn into UKIP’s web of lies and that Gogglebox’s posh couple have their house up for sale. Admittedly, these aren’t that important, but they are entertaining none the less.

I Still Read Books

Oh yes I do.  I do most Looking Down when the tv is on, or when I’m bored at work, or on a train, or waiting in a queue. I think it’s good use of my time.  In the evening, I read a book. On my kindle (50% of the time).  Does that count? It’s a device. I’m looking down.  I did make a conscious decision to buy a paperwhite so I wouldn’t be distracted by email or Facebook posts.

The thing is, if I was reading a political book that would be ok to most people. The fact I’m reading a political article on my phone isn’t a good thing.  I find this weird.  I’m still taking in information on both counts.

My mate was a big bookworm growing up (as was I) and she used to get into trouble reading at the dinner table.  Sounds like a familiar argument to me.  It’s still not “in the moment” is it?

I’m always reminded of this photo when I think of the good old days before using a phone.

reading newspapersSocial bunch weren’t they?

Using smart phones is not a fad, they will stay with us now, but the use of them will follow the trajectory of a fad for individuals.  Inevitably we will spend a lot of time looking down when we get them for the first time, when we are young and when we are in particular situations like standing by ourselves and feeling self-conscious.  However, we will soon work out BY OURSELVES when they are invading our lives too much. Maybe at a low point in our life or when you look around the dining table and realise we aren’t engaging.  Then we impose our own limits to things, in our own time.  Just like my friend couldn’t read at the table, so too we will impose those rules. No devices after 9pm to help me sleep. Consciously placing the phone elsewhere when you have visitors or putting them in our pocket.

It just kind of annoys me that people think it’s ok to tell me that I’m looking down too much. I’m looking down just the right amount of time at the moment thank you very much.

I’m being defensive. You bet I am. My life is better for Looking Down.

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