Our smartphones are ubiquitous. We use them first thing in the morning when we open our eyes, we use them to catch up on the news, and we use them to check our bank balances. We cannot imagine life without our smartphones, and this is dangerous to how we conduct our affairs in life.
We use our smartphones to do the most modicum things for us; we use them to do everything except drive for us, and even then we use them for directions and to catch up on emails at stoplights. On average, we spend eleven hours a day on our screens (Associated Press, 2016). Our screens dictate the information we use to make our decisions upon, what we watch based on algorithms, who we are friends with on Facebook, and who we follow on Instagram. Our dependency on these devices for these can become addicting. And our dependency on our smartphones is sapping our ability to interact civilly with one another and our ability to keep correspondence private between us and our peers. Because of this, we are becoming more anxious and more depressed because we are losing our ability to interact with one another civilly. Another danger to smart technology, is that it will easily replace most jobs in the labor market. For example, most car manufacturing is done by robots, it has been for a while now. There used to be 618,500 workers in manufacturing in Detroit in 1968. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1968). Now, there are 12,490 remaining in manufacturing, due to the Great Recession and automation. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). With the increase of smart technology and smartphones, we are not only learning how to act more virulently within in 160 characters or online, but outsourcing livelihoods and creating demagogues who can wreak havoc down the road.
The dangers of smartphones and smart technology is our dependency on them. They are desensitizing us from real problems, such as hunger, penury, and the erosion of privacy under increasing state surveillance in both constitutional and authoritarian countries. Because of our smartphones and our increased screen time, we are developing a dangerous sense of ennui to these problems; because all we do is stare into our lit devices and read about these issues in lieu of solving them. Then we comment savagely afterwards; if we have even read the article and have not skipped ahead to get our news from the comment section. Instead of seeing these issues on the news and discussing them with each other in person civilly amongst each other, we pugnaciously attack those who disagree with us in the comment section. In her book, Demagoguery and Democracy, Patricia Roberts-Miller asserts, “Demagoguery says we don’t have to debate policies, since what we should do is empower good people (or a good person) to do what every good person recognizes to be the correct course of action.” (Roberts-Miller, 2017). She also asserts that as things become more polarized, as they have been in the United States over the last couple of decades, the social environment becomes more hostile. (Roberts-Miller, 2017).
As people become more hostile, they spread their messages of hate on the internet and in the comment section, or in the 280 characters one’s allotted on Twitter; and those with smart devices see those, and give a collective shrug as we see them online and anonymously agree. Because we utilize our smart phones to do everything for us, except for cleaning our rear-ends, we become desensitized to what is going on around us. And once we become desensitized to what is going on around us as a result of smart tech, we become less social, less caring, filled with ennui, and allow ourselves to become pugnacious people who only care about why they do not have enough likes on Facebook or re-tweets on Twitter. As a result to this desensitizing, we are okay with losing our privacy because we share everything on our smart phones and okay with algorithms that follow our confirmation biases, making us more polarized. This in effect, will lead to future generations, such as Generation Z, becoming complacent with figures such as Donald Trump running the World and leaving them only scraps. We have to get off our smart phones, interact with each other, and use pen and paper again to maintain and keep our freedoms of speech and privacy, as diaries and notebooks cannot be hacked online.