Disconnected, desolate and desperate

Submitted by on the 19th of October 2011

Imagine my absolute horror when my phone chose the most inopportune moment for the battery to die, at 27dinner. An entire evening not being able to use my phone; a feeling of being completely lost enveloped me as I couldn’t communicate with anyone. I couldn’t Tweet during the event or respond to anyone Tweeting me. I wasn’t able to use Instagram, (which is one of my favourite pastimes, read all about it by [@Lloyd Wybrow](https://www.cerebra.co.za/content/instagram-strike-pose). I had no clue as to what the time was (why should I wear a watch when I have my phone right?). As a result, I had to go back to using a pen and paper to write down everything from potential followers to ideas the talk had sparked. Can you say archaic? I felt helpless, and this further highlighted the dependency and attachment I have to my phone (which cannot be healthy in the slightest).

But there are two sides to every coin, let’s take a look at them shall we.

**The upside**

The large percentage of Africans that are accessing Facebook and Twitter via their mobile devices is growing rapidly, which proves that Smartphones have become an integral part of our society.

According to the [Mobile Africa Report 2011](http://www.mobilemonday.net/reports/MobileAfrica_2011.pdf):

There are more than 500 million phone subscribers in Africa…The four biggest mobile phone markets in Africa are Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana.

The rate at which people are buying mobile phones in Africa is larger than any other continent, and it’s on the rise. Consider this, [“more Africans have access to mobile phones than to clean drinking water”](http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/global/mobile-phones-dominate-in-south-africa/).

We are living in a global information age where we have access to all kinds of information and materials via our mobile phones. Smartphones are helping us gear towards a paperless society to reduce our carbon footprint. Examples are applications such as “Pulse”, it takes all your favourite websites and compiles them into an interactive mosaic. Or “Popurls”, an app that presents the highest voted stories, pics and videos on a single page. Apps such as “Evernote” now combined with “Skitch”, is the perfect note taker. And just when you thought it’s limited to news, productivity and social, you’re spoiled for choice with shopping applications such as “PayPal”, “eBay” and “M-Pesa”. Let’s not forget some of the really fun ones like “Angry Birds”, “Shazam” and “IMDb”.

In these ways we are experiencing connectivity when and where we like in the most convenient way – via our Smartphones. We have a single device available to constantly access information, increase our productivity and have heaps of fun. Sounds too good to be true, maybe it is…

**The downside**

As we’ve established, I have developed a severe dependency on my iPhone – the first thing I do when I wake up and the last thing I do before I go to bed is to check it – email, Facebook and Twitter! (If this doesn’t scream problematic you’re probably following a similar routine).

It seems as though people in general cannot go anywhere without their Smartphones. From checking the weather to your bank account, it’s possible “on the move”. I am all for connectivity, but when exactly does this become a technology overload? If mobile phones are being used at the dinner table, SMS speak and lingo are taking precedence over full length sentences and there is a dramatic change in social etiquette; as a society, where are we headed?

In summary, my dependency on my Smartphone is still consuming my life, especially considering that there are ways to curb it.

I came across the following video via [SocialMediaToday](http://socialmediatoday.com/jonburg/358069/stop-fooling-yourself-unplug) (yes, I’m not blind to the irony) that highlights the necessity for disconnecting for at least an hour in your day.

**The Verdict**

On a personal note, my experience without my Smartphone, which initially felt disastrous, wasn’t as problematic as I thought. During the evening, @MikeStopforth provided us with Twitter handles that would be of value to follow. As irritating as it was to write these down, I was still able to go and add them. It was not life-threatening that I could not immediately follow these individuals, but it was a bit of a ball-ache. I rely on my phone to keep track of the time, to wake me up in the morning, and as one of the only ways in which family and friends can get a hold of me. After all if I cannot be contacted on my mobile via either SMS, a phone call or even Whatsapp something must be horribly wrong. This even extends to my holidays, especially in different destinations, as the first thought in my mind tends to be “this is the perfect opportunity to capture fantastic images and scenery via Instagram”. Need I say more?

Don’t get me wrong, our Smartphone’s have become our trusted side-kicks, our partners in life. Working in social media, or rather, attempting to be a great social media consultant means being connected 24/7. Thankfully home-time presents the perfect opportunity to detach yourself from your Smartphone. At least for an hour or so when you don’t absolutely have to be connected; the old saying, “can’t see beyond the end of your nose” has evolved with society and should probably read, “can’t see beyond an arms length”.

We pour our lives into this little device to the extent where we forget to live them – at least take the opportunity to TRY and do this, but beware, it may prove to be far more difficult than you imagined.

Drop me a Tweet, DM or email and let me know your thoughts. You can find me on the following:
@DCM26, denielle@cerebra.co.za or for those seeking to gain the true value from this article, come around for a visit to our [offices](https://www.cerebra.co.za/contact) for a “real-life” conversation ?