Best Argument: Yes
Audience Favored: Yes (67%)
They steal the moments we value most
Jason Perlow: Smartphones have become so ingrained in our daily lives that it's difficult for many of us to consider going about our days without them at our side. As an industry, we are completely obsessed with mobile devices, like prized pets. The newer, the faster, the more aesthetic, the higher resolution, the increasing capacity.
As I wrote back in February, "Lifestreams" experienced on today's smartphones and other mobile devices are replacing traditional computing experiences and in many cases intruding on actual life experiences.
And while they give us unprecedented access to information at speeds that were incomprehensible even a decade ago, they do detach us from humanity and they steal the moments from us that we value the most: Time spent with our loved ones and friends.
We've not yet evolved into brains implanted in robot bodies, as the recently departed SF master Frederik Pohl predicts in his 1976 novel Man Plus. But as this recently published YouTube video (nearly 24 million views since late August) makes clear, we're well on our way to full detachment from humanity — especially if you consider the future in wearable technologies like Google Glass.
I'm certainly not advocating that we eschew mobile technology. As much as they steal moments from us, they also provide us with the ability to save time so we can live our lives more efficiently.
However, as a culture we need to learn how to recognize what the high-value experiences in our lives actually are, what we should really be paying attention to, and when we should be paying attention to them.
Digital and real-life relationships are converging
Matt Baxter-Reynolds: My thing, the reason why I get up and go to work each day, is that I'm fascinated by how technology changes individuals, and how society changes as a result.
Jason's piece on which this debate is based -- How smartphones steal fleeting moments of life -- is a fascinating look at one side of what these devices mean to one's "digital life".
People fall into two camps in this argument. One camp -- my camp -- is that digital relationships and real-life relationships are levelling off and becoming the same. The other camp is that there is an inherent *specialness* in real-life that digital life can never replace.
My job today, as ZDNet's self-appointed "technology sociologist", is to prove to you all that my camp -- that digital and real-life relationships are converging and will one day be indistinguishable -- is the right one. And if it is the right one, the smartphone becomes an essential tool, access to one becomes embedded in what we actually understand to be the human expeirence, and can never be "stealing away our lives."