“Smart” phone: You get stupid, they get rich.

One of the real cons of the wireless era is calling everything “smart”: smart watches, smart phones, smart meters, smart cars, smart houses etc. All of these things are computers, and computers are NOT smart; they’re just machines that do what they’re programmed to do. If the programmer is stupid, so is the program.

A computer does not think the way a reasoning being does. It has no imagination. It can only perform set tasks provided it is told what to do using a set of instructions delivered in a particular, precise way. A computer can’t make intuitive leaps.

But they’ve called all these objects “smart” as a marketing device, and it is conning people into thinking that if they own one of these “smart” devices, they are smart themselves. Not so. A small child who knows which button to push on a computer is often lauded by adults as clever because the adults can’t get their heads around the technology. But this isn’t intelligence; it is rote learning in a set of very limited circumstances, not unlike a Skinner box: learn to press the right button and you get a reward–a cartoon, a funny video, whatever.

We know now, because of a number of wireless industry whistleblowers, that smartphones were designed to be addictive. Immoral, unscrupulous companies hired clever techno whiz kids, who consulted amoral, unscrupulous psychologists to learn how to manipulate customers into becoming dependent on their products. This makes them pushers in my book, no different from the sleazeballs who hang our near playgrounds trying to hook kids on drugs.

Because “smart” phones are like drugs, and just as addictive. If you can’t turn it off, can’t be without it, feel anxious and stressed if you’re deprived of it for even a short time, you’re an addict. I know “smart” phones can allegedly send rockets to the moon, but that isn’t what people use them for. They use them to watch YouTube videos, connect to social media, check email. By and large, they’re toys, or a sort of portable TV.

The addictive nature of “smart” phones and other “smart” devices has enabled the manufacturers to sell billions of these gizmos, making them the biggest players in the stock market. Bully for them. What about the people who buy these items? They’re getting dumber.

It’ s a fact: IQ levels are falling. Since the 1970s, the average IQ has fallen about three points, according to a recent study. I blame screen technology, TVs and computers–but especially the latter. Can’t spell? The computer will correct it. Don’t know grammar? The friendly program will underline the parts it doesn’t approve of in green. Actually, the computer is often wrong, but these days most people don’t trust themselves to say “I know better”. So language and complex thought diminish, and modern books are full of howlers like “make due” for make do”. The computer doesn’t know the difference.

Using any pre-programmed device which operates on a predetermined number of fixed instructions limits the imagination, and this limits thought. If you use a computer all the time, you start to think like one. You do so at the expense of intuition and imagination, because the world of the computer exists only within strictly defined parameters, whereas the mind does not. This is why people are becoming less intelligent: they aren’t using their brains fully because the”smart” device in their hands won’t let them. To get along with a computer, you have to slow your brain down to its speed, and phrase things the way it is programmed to understand them. That’s ultimately very limiting.

And this is why it is such a terrible thing to give any sort of computer-based device to a child, whose mind is still developing. A child needs to use his or her imagination, to play, to explore the world and the use of language, so any device that limits such exploration is a terrible thing. To my mind, it is a crime to give a child a smartphone, a computer or a tablet, as much a crime as giving a child speed or heroin. Let him or her develop intelligence and judgement while learning about the real world first; the cyber-world is not for children.

I write my posts by hand, with a pen, on paper. Try it; it liberates the mind to write without being distracted by a blinking cursor, or by red and green underlining squiggles. If you use a smartphone, put it down. Stop making the tech companies rich.

Check out the “Protest against smart phones” collection in the Anti-Wireless Shop on Zazzle for the items pictured above and much more. Links from the Home Page of this blog.

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