Kevin Shaw: Why I Don’t Want To Ever Buy A Smart Phone

My daughter is two years old. She’s a sweet little girl who loves Mickey Mouse cartoons, her stuffed giraffe and splashing every last ounce of water out of the bathtub; basically she’s just like every other two-year-old. So, as a young father, I can’t help but be concerned about how interested she is with her mother’s cell phone.

Our little girl has made my wife’s phone her favorite new toy. Trying to deter her from making any unexpected calls to Dubai, we’ve attempted to distract her with newer and noisier battery-powered toys. This has done close to nothing and may have actually backfired in our faces, particularly as she convinced grandma to buy her a bright red Mickey cell phone. Ugh.

So now she’s got her own cell phone, laptop computer and handheld video game console.

My wife and I aren’t what you’d call “tech junkies.” I haven’t paid more than $70 for a cell phone in quite some time given that I break a phone every two years or so.

Sure, we own an iPod, but it’s a hand-me-down from a friend. We don’t do any “live streaming,” and I fear downloading a full-length movie would melt our PC down to the ground.

Don’t confuse me for one of those who hate technology. The allure of a fancy new cell phone with GPS and internet connectivity is undeniable. I don’t necessarily hate technology, I merely fear what it’ll bring.

My father grew up during the mid-1950s when canned, preserved and frozen foods were new and exciting technology advancements in food processing and handling.

Little did they know that 60 years of eating highly processed, heavily altered foods would lead to a cavalcade of heath problems.

While I have no empirical evidence that we men are walking around with microwave emitters irradiating our testicles (women are smart enough to keep their cell phones in their purses), it is hard to believe that we know the long term effects of traversing around with these high-range antennae glued to the side of our heads. Yes, I know, countless studies have been done on the subject matter. The same has been done for the dairy industry and nobody knows if milk is good for them either.

While the physical health concerns have been pushed to the side, the impact of all these gadgets on your mental health are equally – if not more – disconcerting.

“I think [tech junkies] share some of the same components as people who become addicted to alcohol and drugs in that we start to see that someone cannot really put it down and cannot stop the use of it even when there are some consequences,” John O’Neill, the director of addictions services at the Menninger Clinic in Houston, Texas, explained in an interview with Reuters.

Referred to as “technology overload,” people are exhibiting addiction-like behavior as socially damaging as alcoholism, gambling and drug addiction.

O’Neill did go on to state that there is no reason to become alarmed about daily use of texting or emails, explaining, “We’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of years talking about what does it mean to healthily use something, what does it mean to healthily drink a glass or two of wine as opposed to drinking a bottle. I think some people are drinking a bottle of technology and some people are able to drink a glass.”

While this sounds well and good, the after-effects of technology overload and its inevitable infiltration into every aspect of our lives are just too large of a looming shadow to avoid.

“Soon, we notice our [family] car rides are silent because everyone is using their own media,” wrote John Creighton in the Washington Post earlier this year. “Dinner conversations are interrupted by a text message that just can’t wait. A friend or family member posts embarrassing pictures on Facebook. Then, one day, we ask, ‘Why the hell am I playing Farmville at one o’clock in the morning?'”

Consider this short from ABC News:

video platform video management video solutions video player

The Campbell family above is very much like everybody else’s. Smartphones, laptop computers, iPods, iPhones, and digital televisions have provided us with far more conveniences than our parents could’ve ever imagined, but these are more of a distraction than anything else. Unfortunately, we live in a world where entertainment is no longer a recreational activity done when work and family meal time are over. Socially, we are a generation that needs to be entertained all the time.

“I’m bored” was the one phrase I never said around the house growing up. I had plenty of toys, a bicycle, friends, pets, a swimming pool and a sunny summer day to keep me entertained as a kid. If I ever moaned, “I’m bored” my father would find some horrible chore to “entertain” me. But again, I digress.

"Siri, help me find where that knocking is coming from!"

I got on this tear because of the influx of iPhone-friendly tuning software being made for your muscle car – both new and old. I for one remember the backlash against modernizing your classic car with EFI with the war cry, “I don’t use a laptop to tune my car!” Well, now you can use your phone.

Advancing ignition, clearing engine codes, and even dialing in reaction times and making 0-to-60 and quarter-mile passes can all be accomplished through your cellular phone.

Besides the repercussions of people hosting ad hoc drag races on public roads or very damaging pranks resulting in engine failure, what bothers me most is the disconnect the would-be car builder/tuner has with the intimacy of wrenching on their own car.

Of course, modern muscle cars require very little physical tooling, so I suppose I’m aiming this towards those who crave latter-day contrivances on their vintage street machines.

I would ask you to please don’t disconnect yourself from the joyful experience of building your car with your own hands. There’s a personal gratification of making something work with your own hands and ingenuity that you just can’t get anywhere else. Next, I would ask that you please disconnect yourself from your gadgets, if only for a couple extra hours a day. Sure they’re fun, but they’re a distraction to life. Don’t be so busy that you miss your own life.

Light ’em up,

About the author

Kevin Shaw

Kevin Shaw is a self-proclaimed "muscle car purist," preferring solid-lifter camshafts and mechanical double-pumpers over computer-controlled fuel injection and force-feeding power-adders. If you like dirt-under-your-fingernails tech and real street driven content, this is your guy.
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