Two years ago at exactly 5pm on a Wednesday, I had cause to walk along the eastern side of Lambton Quay back to our offices, perhaps 1000 metres. I counted the office girls I confronted walking towards me, in total 67, every one of them head-down, staring at their phones.

Perchance last Wednesday, also at 5pm I repeated that same walk. This time not a single one of the girls were staring at phones.

Then lo and behold, the following morning Wellington’s Dominion-Post 23 year old young columnist Glenn McConnell, who writes incredibly astutely after just a year on the job, came out with a fascinating confessional article I reproduce below.

Over the past two years there’s been so much publicity on this topic, such as the spinal problems of young girls but most of all the mindlessness and destructive thinking capacity and other debilitating effects, so perhaps change is in the wind.

Here’s an example of the absence of thinking. Four years ago in London with 3 of my company’s execs, we trained across to Cardiff to inspect the city’s largest office building then for sale. On arrival we quickly found ourselves in the now totally pedestrianised central CBD. Where was the building?

My eldest son piped up saying, “That’s an example of the phone’s merits Dad” and pulling his out, began jabbing at it. Remember this was the city’s biggest building so I simply asked a passer-by who said, “second on the left”. Chris was still poking away.

Increasingly phones are being banned in schools all over the world.

The question is whether it’s too late for older addicts to be cured. Our company solicitor, (we’ll call him David for discussion purposes) who 20 years ago was one of the sharpest minds I’ve ever encountered, is today virtually a zombie. Conversations going past 10 seconds see his eyes start twitching nervously and his right cell phone hand begins convulsions. We tried allowing him to hold it during conversations but that only made things worse.

Anyway, read Glenn McConnell’s article. He says that he’ll report back in a month on the outcome so we’ll look forward to that. My bet is his conclusion will be a positive one.

One Comment

Bah what a joke. I shouldn’t be haughty since good on McConnell, but its bemusing to me in my mid-twenties and being the only person I have *ever* known of my age to never use social media and barely touch my phone. It’s like being an alien.

It should be surprising to nobody given how the internet is based on an attention economy that everything is designed to hijack human motivation mechanisms. It is little wonder that Silicon valley types themselves are reverting to flip phone style technology. For those curious Tristan Harris is one of the most preeminent voices in this space.

While many older people have become as bad or worse, they have a better chance of recovery since they can better remember the time before such technology (I hope).
I despair at my peers sometimes – sitting down together but faces buried, totally ignoring anything else, especially those ‘in a relationship’ barely saying two words to one another.

You are right in your observation that girls are usually the worst offenders. One girl I know would quite literally be lost if you put her anywhere without a phone, even in the middle of the town she grew up, as absurd as it sounds since every time she ever went anywhere she was on her phone, chauffeured by her parents, not so much as once glancing out a window.

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