Saturday, 19 October 2013

It’s time to ditch the smartphone and make the most of the moment

Smartphones have their uses, particularly during crises such as Sydney’s recent bushfires, but you have to wonder whether smartphones are increasingly denying people from ‘making the most of the moment’.
For instance, at concerts, half the audience seems to watch the performance via their smartphone rather than just taking in the richness of the event. How can a tiny and tinny version of a concert captured on a smartphone replicate the actual thing? Instead of something special gained, it simply results in a unique moment lost.
The intrusion and negative impact of the ubiquitous smartphone is now apparently affecting sporting prowess. According to Fairfax Media, Australian Rugby Union CEO, John O’Neill, blasted the wobbly Wallabies straight after their 22-0 loss to the All Blacks in Auckland recently, saying: ''Twenty per cent of you are letting down the other 80 per cent. That 20 per cent are the same 20 per cent who have their mobile phone in their hands right now. The same 20 per cent are the ones on the grog midweek instead of complying with the rules. So put your f---ing mobiles away. In fact, don't even bring them with you on match day. I'm your employer. I'm not your mate. You're getting paid for the privilege of wearing the gold jersey and representing your country. And you are letting us down.''
Taking out the smartphone on a holiday might not warrant such a withering response, but there is a time and a place for their use. For instance, why take out the phone and post on Facebook that you’ve arrived at a restaurant. Why not enjoy the whole experience, talk with your partner or family, savour the moment and then – if you have to – post a little later?

The “Outsmart the Smartphone” campaign launched by Sunshine Coast Destination is very commendable. It is not about banning the instrument, but rather asking holidaymakers to think about appropriate usage.
In collaboration with British technology expert, Dr. Tom Chatfield, they’ve designed a Smartphone ‘Code of Conduct’, which lists seven simple behaviours to encourage individuals to break free from smartphone dependency, especially if they are planning to holiday on the Sunshine Coast. They are:
1. Avoid being a search-it-all
Make the most of the moment and seek out your own special corner of the coast.
2. Elbows and phones off the table
Make the most of the moment with great food and company (There’s a great restaurant in Caloundra called Table Manners, which does its best to educate young and old about correct etiquette when dining).
3. Kiss your phone goodnight 
Make the most of your night with a restful night’s sleep or some romance. 
4. Look before you snap
Make the most of the moment and take in this truly breathtaking place. 
5. Take a phone-free day
Make the most of the moment and experience nature without distractions. 
6. Talk now, text later
Make the most of the moment and enjoy this precious time together. 
7. Taste before you upload
Make the most of the moment and savour every mouthful.
Queensland’s Sunshine Coast is claiming to be the first ever destination to act on the issue of smartphone dependency, and a number of the region’s attractions have joined up to support the campaign.
The campaign follows research undertaken by Galaxy Research, which found that 55 per cent of Australians believe they could not live 24 hours without their smartphone and 65 per cent keep their phone within arms reach throughout the day.
Even more worryingly, the research revealed that smartphones have become so addictive that 48% of Australians interviewed said they had been interrupted by phones during sex and 53% were using their phones while on the toilet. I can vouch for the latter because my son managed to drop his iphone in the toilet while a recent holiday in Phuket.
Anna Musson, ettiquette expert, notes that: “The research highlights how obsessed we are with our smartphones, we’ve lost touch with what constitutes positive social behaviour. 80 per cent of people said they’ve had a conversation with someone where the other person was texting and almost half of all Australians (48%) have argued with a partner over their phone usage.”
"Whilst there is widespread commentary around the appropriate use of smartphone technology, the Sunshine Coast is the first destination to put a stake in the ground to address the issue. Considering the natural beauty of the region, this is perfect destination to do so.”
And before anyone claims that the campaign is close to being evangelical, I think Tom Chatfield has exactly the right view – it’s all about balance: “This doesn’t mean technology is bad, toxic or something we need to give up. Rather, we need to become technology gourmets and learn how to pick and choose how we use it.”

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