The few, the smartphoneless, and the violently jealous

These days it’s as strange to meet someone without a smartphone as it is to meet someone who isn’t on Facebook, or who only has a Lime (one of two local networks) phone. But we’re out there. Well, I’m on Facebook, but the other two are totally me.

Smartphones have become de rigeur among Jamaicans, with the more affluent among us owning not just one, but two. Yes. The Blackberry is the Lime phone and the iPhone is the Digicel. Of course the allure is understandable: you have the internet at your fingertips, not to mention cameras and MP3 capabilities. It’s like a computer that fits in your pocket. What’s not to love? People my age are all over them for the instant communication of BBM (not that anyone uses it that much any more) and the du jour What’s App. Sometimes I catch students revising Powerpoint presentations on them too. They’re multi-functional, I get it.

But they’re still just a technological fad, and one that will fade or change or become obsolete with time. It happened to the early “fridge” cellphones; it happened to the first room-sized computers; it will happen to everything. Everything is eventually improved upon.

I’m in no rush to get a smartphone, because riding that wave only leads to wanting more, more, more. You get the Bold, then you have to get the Bold 2, the Bold 3, the iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy, the Galaxy 3. Hell, I want a smartphone, but I’m smart enough to know that that way lies madness. Always, there is the rush to keep up with the times and with your friends. It leads to all kinds of disparities and envy, and once people get jealous they get angry. They do stupid things.

Last week my friend’s phone got stolen because some jerk decided he wanted one too, and instead of getting one legally or accepting the fact that he couldn’t, he decided to gang her with a couple of his friends and just take it. But I don’t want to digress into our social injustices; that’s a whole blog on its own.

To all the smartphone users out there – and someone is probably reading this on one – be careful about where you use your gadgets and who you use them around. Play nice; don’t leave people out just because they don’t have email on tap. And be grateful for what you’ve got. 50 years ago, we didn’t even have cellphones.


If you’re interested in more discourse on technology and communication, my friend Ray blogs about that very thing on So Says Ray. Go check it out.