I love my smartphone and the conveniences it offers me. But at the same time, it feels like a paradox. My smartphone is amazing and magical because it can do so many different things. It can be a camera, a stereo, a notepad, a photo album, a messaging centre, a calendar, a task management system, a grocery list and a way to make good old fashioned phone calls.
However, when one device serves so many different roles it’s bound to get complicated at some point. For the past few years I’ve been trying to ween myself from taking notes on paper and using my smartphone directly to record my thoughts. Whenever I take notes digitally at an event, I always feel like I have to explain this to the other people in the room so I don’t look like I’m distracted texting and messaging the whole time.
Other complications also arise with the camera functions. I’ve been in many locker rooms that forbid the use of smartphones and other devices because of the recording capabilities. However, many people use their phones to track fitness information. In this sense, it’s no different from using a notebook to record the latest workout, except the phone can also be a camera whereas the notebook is always just a notebook.
This also gets complicated for professionals who work in industries where taking pictures is prohibited, but the phone may be needed to access other types of information such as contacts, scheduling, or even simply to be contacted. Earlier this summer I heard a story about nursing home aides taking pictures of the patients and then posting them on social media accounts. According to the article, this action wasn’t against the law because none of the photos were of genitalia, even though they were clearly exploiting and humiliating a vulnerable population.
Restricting the camera isn’t the solution, especially when there are so many dependencies on all the other available functions. And even if the camera could be restricted other wearable devices, such as a smartwatch, could be used instead.
Probably the worst aspect of having one magical device is that when it goes down, everything goes with it and you’re left with nothing. It seems to be all or nothing, making it difficult to restrict certain functions while still maintaining the other necessary ones.