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Life before smartphones: The pros and cons of being the mobile generation

It’s estimated that by the end of 2014, there will be approximately 1.75 billion smartphones in the world, which means that almost a quarter of the population is capable of snapping a selfie or gazing adoringly at KK’s posterior wherever they roam.

But what about the long-forgotten days before smartphones? Those dark times when we had to get to a landline to ring our mates or actually read a newspaper to find out what was happening in the world? Were those pre-smartphone times quite as idyllic as some would have us believe, or have mobiles enhanced our lives significantly over the last 15 years?

Here’s our pros and cons of being the smartphone generation…

Pro – Being able to stay in touch with your mates

Smartphones are jam packed with methods of communication which go way above and beyond calling or texting. Can’t get hold of someone by phone? How about Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, BBM, WhatsApp or any other number of apps which allow you to get in touch at any time of day. Never again will you miss out on weekend plans – unless of course your mates are actively trying to avoid you because you’re a plum.

Con – Being contactable at ALL times

The problem with smartphones is that, unless you want to switch your device off altogether, there’s a constant line on which people can pester you. And as we detailed above, it’s not just calls and texts you’ll be trying to avoid, but a whole host of other apps which will have your device beeping and vibrating like R2D2 on his honeymoon. Not exactly conducive to relaxation or disconnecting from the world…

Pro – Capturing beautiful, spontaneous images

In the days before smartphones, taking photos meant carrying a separate camera with you at all times – usually one the size of a London taxi – and inevitably missing spectacular moments as you took the time to power it on, adjust the lens and focus your shot. And then those shots would end up lingering in a massive photo album somewhere in the loft.

Now, because smartphones encompass so many different functions, remembering the best sunset of your life is as easy as taking your phone out of your pocket and pressing a button.

Con – Taking pictures of ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING and then social media to the max

It can’t just be us who are crushingly bored of seeing photos of every meal our friends ever eat, their gormless kids, and those god-awful selfies. Having a camera on hand at all times can be both a blessing and a curse and while we love a good nose at what our mates are up to, some people need to learn when to put the camera down and actually eat their damn dinner.

But the worst part of being constantly surrounded by cameras is that sinking feeling, the morning after you went out and got smashed. We’re talking about the horrifying moment a notification pops up onto your phone, saying ‘someone tagged you in a photo on Facebook’. And there you are, dry-humping a statue with a cone on your head and a feather boa draped around your neck.

Pro – Knowledge at your fingertips

Wasn’t it frustrating, back in The Dark Old Days, when you’d be debating something deep and meaningful in the pub, and you’d have to wait until you got back home to look in an encyclopaedia and work out who was right? Now, when you’re desperately trying to convince your mate that Kevin Bacon did indeed get his little man out in Wild Things, you can just pull up Google and tap your way to victory.

Con – The death of those fascinating pub discussions, and of course quizzes

The real downside of having ALL the knowledge on hand is that pub quizzes have been ruined. We’ve lost count of the amount of times we’ve been happily conferring over answers, only to look across the bar and see some unscrupulous knobber quizzer surreptitiously looking something up on their phone. There’s no glory in cheating to win, but that won’t stop a lot of people from trying.

Pro – You’ll never get lost with a smartphone in your hand…

Having GPS on your device means that the world is a wholly more navigable and serene place, and you’ll always be able to find your way to the nearest Greggs for a steak bake, even when stranded in the most unfamiliar and hostile of places (such as deepest, darkest Bury St Edmunds).

Con – …when it works!

GPS is all well and good in principle, provided you’ve got good signal, a full battery and the device is able to locate where you are in the first place. If not, you’ll be stuck in an unforgiving land, holding a very expensive paperweight and wishing you’d learned some map reading/star navigation skills instead of choosing to rely on technology. Still, at least you can capture your last moments with a series of selfies.

Pro – You only need one device

Increased functionality of smartphones means that one little device can do everything that a phone, pager, camera, radio, mp3 player, sat nav and much more can do, which frees up some serious pocket and bag space.

Con – Batteries not included

High functionality also means high battery drain and unless you’re using one of those rare devices with a removable battery, you’ll need to be near a power source at least once a day. Or lug around one of those chunky power cells. Otherwise, your wonderful 9-in-1 labour-saving device won’t actually do anything at all.

Pro – You’re never short of entertainment

If you’ve got a long commute to work, being able to use your phone to catch up on emails or social media, or even play a game, listen to music or watch a film or TV is an absolute gift. Knowing that you won’t have to sit bored and alone in a fast-moving metal box, inhaling other people’s BO for hours on end can make all the difference to your mood for the rest of the day.

Con – It’s hard to disconnect

Sometimes, people rely so heavily on their smartphones that it becomes almost impossible to disconnect. Going to dinner with a friend and watching them check their screen for notifications every two minutes can be truly distracting, and there’s few things that annoy us more than some dimwit in a suit charging into us on the street because their faces are glued to their mobiles.

After all, while they’re arguably the greatest invention of the last 20 years, smartphones need to be put down once in a while.

Got any pros and cons of your own? Share them in the comments below…

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