Uninventing smartphones

Bloganuary writing prompt
If you could un-invent something, what would it be?

Today’s blogging prompt immediately stimulated an answer from me, so here it is: I would definitely un-invent the smartphone! There are a number of reasons for this, but they mainly boil down to: distractions, privacy, future generations.

As a teacher, I am confronted every single day with the damage smartphones are doing to teenagers’ brains and their ability to concentrate for longer than 10-15 seconds. I have read contrasting points of view, but my own empirical experience tells me this is causing incalculable damages to future (and current) generations. We are all becoming unable to be still and spend idle time without checking our phones. In other words, we are allowing a bunch of tech companies to massively influence who we are and who we will become, and everyone seems fine with it.

Second, it is no mystery that smartphones are portable tracking devices which know everything about us. This is not perceived as a problem by many, but imagine that your country were overrun by an authoritarian regime, how easy would it be for the police to know where you go, who you talk to, what you like, what you think, etc.? Again, we are not doing much about this, while companies are profiting enormously from selling and using our personal data. But who checks on these companies and make sure our data is not used inappropriately?

To sum up, I totally miss the times when landline phones were the only option.

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