Life Line

Last week I blogged about my accidental time off from my smartphone.  Since I wasn’t distracted by it for two whole days, it gave me an opportunity to think about how many things I use it for such as messaging on three separate apps, checking email, taking & viewing pictures, using the calendar, storing contacts, navigating, researching, maintaining my to-do list, accessing information, jotting down notes/story ideas, and plain old phone calls.

Ironically enough, the most difficult challenge of being without my phone was for the least-used feature, making actual calls.  At some point during my two-day break I had a moment of panic about how I would contact somebody if there was an emergency.  I’m not sure the fire department is equipped to respond to tweets and 9-1-1 Skype calls.  I have an old-fashioned push-button phone plugged into the jack to access my building’s intercom system, but that’s all it’s connected too.

During our AGM the other week the Board mentioned they were looking into the option of having the intercom connected with a cell phone instead of the regular plug-in kind.  Many people cheered at this.  I would have been one of them before being phone-less for two days.  Even if we do get the cell phone hook up option, I’m still keeping my old-fashioned phone for backup, just in case.

This is one of the main problems we face when we rely on one device to do so many essential things.  When one part breaks, the whole organism fails.  Not very sturdy or reliable.  My smartphone does so many amazing things for me that I often forget at the core, it’s still a phone.  When it took the plunge last week, I only thought about the data losing sight of the most important, basic function, being able to call for help.

I wonder if this is what it will be like for “smart” homes that rely entirely on a hub to manage and control a household of things connected through the internet.  What if something happens to the hub (e.g. an accident, water damage, faulty wire, etc.) or the internet connection?  Will people be left with a house full of working items that can’t be used or controlled because the motherboard is down?  Will we lose sight and control of our most basic necessities because we’re so preoccupied with convenience and speed?


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