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From Fraping To Farmville – 5 Ways Your Phone is Making You a Dumbass

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Posted September 20, 2013 by Emily Ross in Lifestyle

Are Smartphones Making Us Dumberer?

Smart phones bring us joy. The sum of the world’s knowledge rests in our pockets. Charlie Sheen’s tweets, Britney’s twat, quotes from the Dali Lama, and instant access to discounted teeth whitening. Apps to do everything from tracking fertility to checking out who’s checking you out on Facebook. A Pandora’s box of tricks and treats. A key to the future. But in many ways, they’re making us dumber.

Here are five ways smart phones are dumbing down your life.

1:  Autocorrect. Don’t you think that relying on our devices to correct our spelling mistakes – especially the ones we make over and over and over again – is sort of, well – cheating? OK – the world would also be bereft of pant-wettingly funny blogs like this one,  featuring autocorrects that are so funny, people on public transport will think you’re having a stroke. But still. Predictive text and autocorrect means we think less. The day will come when you kids will be learning their spellings, and you actually won’t know if they’re right or not.

2: Numeracy. Numeracy is the ability to understand and work with numbers. But what about remembering them? Before mobiles (yes dear, some of us can remember that far back) we all carried a set of important numbers in our heads. Our parents, best friends, significant others, the local STD clinic… The more numbers you knew off, the better you were covered in any emergency.  Whether you’re stranded penniless in a beach bar in Goa, or abandoned, sobbing and soaking at the Supermacs in Portlaoise, the ability to remember the direct line to your big brother, best friend or (worst case scenario) a discrete auntie, cannot be overestimated.

3: Punctuality. This is also not specific to smartphones, but mobiles in general. You called a friend from your landline, and arranged to meet in front of HMV at 1. If the person didn’t show up on time, you got on with life, and made a mental note that that person might be indicating early signs of douche-bagginess. Now, the friend texts you at five past one to say ‘Sorry!! Just leaving now, there in 20’ and you kill a half hour before they rock up whenever it pleases them. The only time we’re on time now is for job interviews, and we’re so stressed at actually having to be on time for once that we arrive all sweaty and totally unprepared.  We’re all guilty of this, and life is a little bit shittier because of it.

4: Fraping. First of all, terrible word. Imagine your mother’s face when your kid sister tells her you’ve just been fraped. Then she’s like ‘God mum, chill out, it’s only on FACEBOOK.’ By all means, prank the shit out of people too dumb to figure out how to lock their phone, but call it something a little less violent, will you? So the act of hijacking someone’s status update is actually funny. The most creative is when people actually don’t realise it’s bogus, and weigh in, on both sides. And when the phone’s owner returns, ARMAGEDDON has broken out on their newsfeed. Time wasting hood-winkery, that will, at least – confuse the bejeebuz out of any aliens watching our bizarre little lives.

5: Tablequizes. Don’t lie, we all do it. How else did you get that question right about the local currency of Botswana? In fact, the usage of smartphones at a table of any kind should be grounds for zombie shotgun to the face. Look in restaurants, pubs, gigs and living rooms – any gathering of people in general.  Everyone is too busy checking out updates from other people, at other restaurants, pubs, gigs or living rooms to actually ‘be’ in the room they’re in, with the actual people we’re with. Smart phones get us so caught up in our human ‘doings’ that we forget we’re actually human beings. (I got that in a yoga class.) Here are some more things that bug the crap out of us Rampers about smartphones.

  • Farmville. Send me one more Farmville request and I will defriend you, asap. Even if we are sleeping together.
  • Poking. Why, for the love of all that is sacred. Why?
  • Goddamn CandyCrush. Read a book, what are you, 12?
  • Angel posts that promise wealth and happiness if you share IN THE NEXT SEVEN SECONDS. And syphilis if you don’t.
  • That thing you do when it’s on silent and you can’t find it –turn off all sound making devices and creep around your house, calling it from someone else’s phone. Repeatedly, trying to hear the little buzzing.
  • That empty, panicked feeling you get when you leave home without it.

What’s the moral of the story?

The brain is like a muscle. Actually, that’s a pile of crap, it’s nothing at all like a muscle, but metaphorically they do have one thing in common. Use it or lose it. Despite the many new ways smartphones surprise and delight us, our neurons are missing out on the old school every-day mental exercises that help our brain’s plasticity – the development of new neural pathways that come about when we learn or memorise information. By using our phones like remote access hard-drives for our own memory, we are leaving ourselves mentally weaker, linguistically poorer, numerically slower and pathetically over-dependent. Not to mention forever dreaming in candy crush colours.


About the Author

Emily Ross


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