We need to show some smarts and stop being slaves to phone

Do we have unhealthy relationships with our phones? Trevor Laffan thinks so
We need to show some smarts and stop being slaves to phone
Why is everyone looking at their phones? asks Trevor Laffan

MY wife got a smack of a ball into the eye one evening while playing a game of tennis. There was a lot of force in the shot and she didn’t get time to close her eye, so her eyeball got the full brunt of it.

I got a phone call to go and collect her and the minute I saw it, I figured she was in trouble.

Her eye was a mess and there was obviously a lot of bleeding going on from what I could see, but it was what was going on behind the eye, that couldn’t be seen, that was more worrying.

I remember many years ago, I was part of a convoy going to Belarus with humanitarian aid following the accident at the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl. One of the truck drivers developed a problem when he jumped out of the cab of his truck.

He became unwell and was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with a detached retina. This was serious, so he was subsequently flown home for treatment. If it is not promptly treated, retinal detachment can cause permanent loss of vision.

So when I saw my wife, I knew from that experience that this was a medical emergency and not a time to be sitting around wondering what to do next, so we headed off to South Doc.

It was about 8pm when we got there, and it was busy. The room was full and there was a constant flow of people coming and going. There were two doctors on duty and they were working flat out.

Some of those waiting were in obvious discomfort. Others were coughing and spluttering, and some had children with them that didn’t look too well either. But all of them had one thing in common, they were all on their phones.

One mother, and what looked like her teenage daughter, were standing in the hallway and sharing an electrical socket. They were taking turns at plugging in their chargers before the phones died.

A father and daughter sat side by side and were both on their phones too. They were all at it.

My wife was sent to the Accident and Emergency Department at the CUH. When we got there, she was examined by a triage nurse very quickly and she told us that she would have to send for an eye specialist. That person had finished work for the day and would have to be summoned from home. We figured out that this was going to take a bit of time, so we settled back for a wait.

Within a few minutes, a young lady bounded into the reception area and demanded that a couple waiting there had to move seats. She was loud, stressed and she had a serious problem. She needed to be near a socket, so she could plug in her phone.

It didn’t matter to her what difficulty, tragedy or illness this couple were dealing with at that point in time. The most important concern for this lady was the life of her phone.

If that wasn’t bad enough, she then shouted into it so that everyone could hear her conversation, whether they wanted to or not. And she went on and on.

I was listening to Ryan Tubridy one morning recently and he was talking about the amount of time he was spending as a slave to his phone. He was constantly checking emails, Tweets and God knows what else, so he decided that he was going to give it a break for a month.

He went off and bought himself a bog-standard Nokia that would allow him to make a call and receive a call and send and receive text messages. Nothing else.

He admitted that in his business he needs to be tuned in to what is happening in the world, so he would keep using all the modern technology available to him during his working hours, but his free time was going to be spent off line.

Tubs has often expressed his irritation at the amount of abuse flying around on social media. He was tipped over the edge when a caller to his radio show highlighted how broadcaster Maura Derrane had been treated over some outfit she had worn on TV.

Some suggested that it was horrendous and looked like it was picked up off the floor. They also criticised her make-up and her general appearance.

One lady called into The Tubridy Show because she was so disturbed by the comments and she asked; “When did it become OK to do this?” And it’s a great question.

It has become acceptable to say what you like on social media and that includes being rude and abusive.

Nasty people find it easier to be insulting on the internet than they do in the real world and it’s partly because of nonsense like this that Tubridy is taking a step back from social media and changing to a basic phone.

It’s a bold decision though because they are more than just phones. They double up as satellite navigation-systems, cameras, diaries, mini-computers and more. On the one hand, they are a blessing and they allow us to be in constant contact with the world. On the other hand, they are a curse for the very same reasons.

Dscout, a research firm, did a study into mobile phone use. They found that the typical mobile phone user touches his or her device 2,617 times every day. And that’s just the average user, so obviously there are some people who are way above that, and extreme users touch their phones more than 5,400 times daily.

We’d all be better off if certain people didn’t touch their phones at all.

PS: My wife’s eye is fine, and it now resembles the other one again.

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