What was it like when we didn’t have mobile phones? I am old enough to remember. We got our first landline, the six digits number 53 15 65. I remember the initial excitement and then after a while it became normal. It was also a device that everybody in the household shared. So we had to be mindful not to hug it for too long. Nobody was attached to it as we are to our smartphone like an umbilical cord. And there is always some new features with the latest version to make the umbilical cord more indispensable as if it is our lifeline that we need to carry around with us all the time. Some schools have banned the use of mobile phones by students while more schools are considering to follow suit.
Giving up a mobile phone is like asking a meat lover to give up eating meat. Paul McCartney on one of his campaign promoting vegetarianism said, it is realistic to ask people to eat less meat rather than give up meat completely. Less meat does help the environment and it is more achievable. How about applying the same principle to our mobile that is limiting the usage of our mobile and our reliance on it? the hardest person to convince is ourselves. Here are some of my own reasons, perhaps you could identify with some of them or can add to it:
- I am reliable.
- I would like to pay attention to my environment rather than get absorbed into my mobile
- I have enough devices at home to play with and I do not feel the need to carry one with me all the time.
- I trust that I live in a safe environment and do not feel the need to contact the emergency services.
- I am in no more need of a mobile phone now than before the technology became available.
- My work does not require me to have a mobile.
- I am always reachable via my landline, email and home address.
- I have discovered most of the calls that I receive on the mobile are not essential, therefore disruptive.
- It’s an extra expense that I cannot afford and I rather use the money to buy more food, give to charity or take a friend out for a feed.
Let’s not forget there is also the pollution mobile phones create! I know we like to pick on plastic as an avoidable pollutant but let’s not forget about the pollution of cell phones. “The first cell phone was produced by Motorola. Since then there have been around 17.37 billion mobile phones.” Currently, there are more mobile phones than people on the planet. “A study by the Environmental Protection Agency showed that only 11% of e-waste is made up of mobile phones, which means almost 90% of them are ending up in landfills or sitting in desk drawers.” According to the same agency, less than 20% of all mobiles are disposed of responsibly. So we are talking about millions and millions of mobiles that end up in the landfill.
Perhaps it’s time to talk about the pollution of mobile phones and the harm it’s doing to the environment.
There are also many studies underway that are trying to fully understand how smartphones are rewiring our brain. However, some studies already suggest since the advent of mobile phones, our attention has declined, the power to remember or recall is poorer, the navigational side of the brain has become less and less utilised and even defunct as the result of the GPS function. And our dependency on our mobiles has created separation anxiety.
It seems with each new feature something also happens to the brain, if it is for better or worse only future research can reveal. Let’s for time being rethink our relationship with our smartphone.