Friday, June 01, 2012

The connected world and its inhabitants

This is something I have been thinking about for some time and discussed with several persons, both online and "in real life".

From my somewhat "outback" point of view I often wonder if people living where mobile communication in the form of 3G mobile networks and free wireless internet access are not becoming more than a little bit addicted?

In Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries (Southafrica possible exemption) 3G usage is expensive and often of poor quality speed- and receptionwise. Free internet access basically do not exist, the odd cafĂ© might give you like 10-15 minutes before you have to cough up. 

So yes, you can keep up with Facebook and such via 3G but that is really about it unless you have a really fat wallet. Among other things this means cellphones here are mainly used as - phones. For calling, sending and getting sms and such. Smartphone or not! 

There is some degree of generationgap here for sure. I rarely use the camera on mine and close to never listen to music via the phone - radio or mp3. While my wife definitely use the camera a lot and the oldest son (on an "old" SE W800) use his phone for almost everything he can think of. He takes photos, records videos of himself and us, plays music, makes music, plays games and so on. If he could afford internet.. phew.

So it is with mild fascination I hear that on public transport in Sweden (and am sure the same in other countries with cheap, fast access) passengers mainly sit glued to their mobile phones or pads during the ride to whereever. And as I check out Facebook regularly I see things like "si-and-so is at Workplace" or "si-and-so is at MacDonalds" and so on. Someone is having drinks with friends at "The Bar"... OK...

For me this is a bit weird. So if I would behave the same - "Orjan is at Office". Yes, that can sort of be expected most workdays, wow exciting? "Orjan is at Pizza Inn" - well he is really splashing out today... "Orjan is having a beer at the Maiden". And? 

I find it more than a little bit strange with this kind of obsession of telling everyone where you are or what you are up to. As to where I happen to be at a given moment the only one I can think might really be interested is my wife checking on me :-)

And I must admit - I find it rather uninteresting, a kind of "white noise" in this river of information we are trying to silt through every day. 

One of my favourites from Facebook: a female friend and her husband use their cellphones via Facebook to decide to hook up at a certain shop. In this case part of a retail chain so they go to different locations but correct shop, so to speak. And instead of using said phones to CALL each other they keep on commenting via Facebook until they figure out they are not in the same location...

To me the above example really shows the "addiction" I mentioned in the beginning. You are so caught up in this "constant conversation" that you actually forget that the device you are using has the primary function of putting you in direct contact with other persons - without passing any internet site first.

It has to be acknowledged that I am not "normal" in this context. I spend myworking hours most of the time in front of a computer and online. On top of that I often check things via my laptop from home in the evenings and mornings, update myself on news, mail etc. So the rest of the time I am quite fine with being reachable "only" via phone, thank you!

Even so - there is something weird going on.. I wonder if this will continue - or increase - or at some stage people will get fed up and start to "disconnect" themselves?

Your theory is as good as mine, friends!