John after his first two shifts in 30 years. He’s holding his smartphone because of course he is. (Chelsea Novak/Castlegar News)

John after his first two shifts in 30 years. He’s holding his smartphone because of course he is. (Chelsea Novak/Castlegar News)

John White: Is the smartphone really so smart?

Walk with me for a bit and have a listen to a middle-aged man’s rantings.

Walk with me for a bit and have a listen to middle-aged man’s rantings.

I was watching the goo-goo over the latest iPhone release on social media and it got me thinking about how exponential improvements in technology have changed the world in the last 10 or so years. I’m not about to ignite a smartphone fan-boy fight here — I own an iPhone but have no religious affiliation to one brand over another.

Imagine, if you will, having to update someone who had been in a coma for the last 20 years on the latest advancements in tech and electronics. If it were me, it would likely go something like:

Coma person: “So what do I need to know?”

Me: “Well the bigly thing is Donald Trump is president.”

CP: “I see. Can you hit me in the head with that ball peen hammer and wake me in four years?”

Me: “No. I will not. Let’s begin: Most things are now available digitally through streaming services. You no longer need video stores, cable TV or a radio, you do not have to physically go to banks or utility companies to complete transactions, and all of the world’s information is available on a device the size of a deck of playing cards that connects through a wireless signal.”

CP: “Wow! Are you serious? That’s incredible. You must spend hours researching scientific breakthroughs and historical mysteries.”

Me: “Of course I do, but most people use it for selfies and cat videos.”

CP: “That’s kind of sad. What do they call this amazing device?”

Me: “Ironically, a smartphone.”

CP: “Does Alanis know what irony is yet?”

Me: “What?”

CP: “What?”

Me: “Anyway, another advancement is the driverless car. Computers can now be programmed to get you to your destination totally without human intervention. They suspect it will put truck and delivery drivers out of work around the world.”

CP: “So cool! Is it really safe?”

Me: “Have you seen the way people drive? I guess you haven’t. To further emphasize the irony of the smartphone moniker, many people think driving while using it is a reasonable activity. So you would suspect focused computers would generally be more attentive overall.”

CP: “Makes sense. What else?”

Me: “TVs are super thin and offer ultra-high definition pictures that are stunning. You can get a home theatre audio system that rivals what you’d experience in formal movie theatres. And with video streaming and downloads, you can watch almost any TV show or movie at any time.”

CP: “Isn’t it more fun to be in a theatre with a bunch of other movie buffs to share the experience?”

Me: “Yes, that’s still a thing, as long as those movie buffs aren’t on their smartphones for the whole show.”

CP: “Those things sound like they can be a curse as much as a blessing.”

Me: “Very true, just like most tech advancements, there is always a con with the pro. Russia most likely hacked the U.S. election.”

CP: “Wait, Russia is bad again?”

Me: “And North Korea has nukes. There are terrorists escalating attacks on tourist targets, the polar ice caps are melting, there are increasing numbers of extreme weather events … it’s kind of a mess.”

CP: “Hence the cat videos and selfies.”

Me: “Touché.”


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