The other night, trying to fall asleep during a podcast hosted by two Millennials (probably in their mid-20s), I sat up taking notes on something they called “the enforced flexibility” of smartphones.
What an intriguing term! I know that addiction to smartphones is a serious problem, but these two weren’t concerned about user activity. They focused instead on the unseen consequences that haunt us long after we put the phone down.
So. Enforced flexibility, the young man said, is the act of texting right up to a meeting or a decision. The texting person gets to go with the flow of unexpected changes in timing and planning. People who receive the messages are forced to be just as “flexible” as the sender.
I had read about the transition from calling on your cell phone to texting (furiously) on your smartphone. And, silly me, I’d assumed those crowds of pedestrians obsessively looking down at their smartphones were reading books.
Here again the two hosts were less concerned about content on the tiny screen than “schizoid geography.” This is the sense of living in a three-dimensional world but attending to the squared-off flatness of that thing in your hand.
And while we’re absorbed by smartphone content, the woman added, we risk the “manhole cover experience.” We don’t see mistakes coming, so we don’t learn how to correct them. In an era of There’s an App for That, we’re all falling for “the ideology of convenience.”