Thursday, August 4, 2011

Birth of the smartphone, death of the daydream

Forty per cent of Britons now have smartphones. We're addicted to them according to a new survey.

But that isn't news of course, because whenever two or three are gathered together, one or two of them are pecking away at some kind of mobile device.

Where once you might have taken a moment to examine your fingernails, stare into space or whistle a tune through pursed lips, today there's stuff to be done while you're waiting. 

Take me: I've got two games of Words with Friends for Android on the go, and I constantly feel that my opponents (who I have never spoken to about the games, although one is a real friend), are thinking I take ages making my next move. 

And then there are tweets to be read or written, news feeds to be checked and possibly 'liked' on Facebook, photos to be taken, edited, uploaded, and apps to be downloaded. (I've got a quiz about national capitals, which fills in any idle minute educationally.) And of course, there's email to read and write. 

In fact, waiting time has gone from downtime to too-much-to-do time. 

So when can we just do nothing - and think nothing - any more? When can we let our minds roam freely so that our unconscious can untangle some seemingly intractable problem that our stressed-out, logical brain can't solve? 

There's always gardening. 

Remember, nobody is going to find themselves on their deathbed wishing 'if only I'd tweeted more...'

It is exactly a hundred years since the Welsh poet W.H.Davies (above) published his poem, Leisure - but it's really coming into its own in the age of the smartphone: 


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No comments:

Post a Comment