A massive disconnect: Hang on to those smartphones


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Today’s column is not specifically about Apple. Yes, sometimes it’s nice to take a break from dumb things that are written about Apple and take a look at dumb things that are written about technology in general.

Writing for CBS, Amanda Schupak chastised: “It's Thanksgiving, put down your phone.”


We're more connected than ever these days.

What a nightmare. Think of it: Our children will never know the simply pleasure of having to wait days for written messages to be received by loved ones. They can instantly contact anyone, like say, if they’re in trouble or just feeling lonely.

The horror.

The horror.

But that's making it harder and harder to really, truly connect.

Balderdash. Baloney. Bull chips. Buffalo cakes.

Have the people who write this “old man yells at cloud” material ever actually used a smartphone? Sure, they can often be used to play pointless games like Flappy Bird or Crossy Road or Shooty Skies or LinkedIn, but they can also be used to — are you sitting down? — connect to people. Yes, it’s surprising to learn, but all that connection technology that’s put into modern smartphones that’s designed to let it connect to WiFi and cellular networks and such can actually be used to let you connect to other people with similar type devices who are in other locations. It’s true!

Truth be told, the Macalope didn’t have a lot of time to look at his iPhone on Thanksgiving Day. But early on he and Mrs. Macalope were receiving and responding to texts and photos sent from relatives they could not be with. The little Macalope used his to FaceTime with his cousin across the country. We were all literally using them to instantly connect with loved ones who were thousands of miles away. It is perhaps the single biggest freaking miracle of the age in which we live. If you don’t get that, you shouldn’t be writing about technology.

"We're addicted to our phones," said Jonah Berger, a communications researcher and marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. "That doesn't make it OK to check them constantly and neglect our loved ones, but it does make it hard to stop."

The technology-is-evil scolds seem to think we live in some Norman Rockwell painting that is being disturbed by these alien invaders from the future. But not everyone is with their loved ones for the holidays and not everyone who is with their family has a functional one.

"Don't squander this precious time with TV, texting or any other electronic distraction," [clinical psychologist Jucy Jo] Palladino warned, referring to family mealtime.

Sure, there are limits. At some point it is important to be where you are and who you are physically with. But this article never once admits that smartphones, much like their analog predecessors, can actually be used to connect to other people.

You should definitely not be looking at your phone while driving. Or while conducting open heart surgery or making love or doing stunt work or, yeah, maybe while eating a holiday meal. But this holiday if you want to use your smartphone to connect with the people you love at other times, don’t let some Saturday Evening Post fetishists stop you.

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