A recent study of the University of Texas at Austin shows that smartphones reduce our cognitive capacity. Translation: They make us stupid. You know, I’ve always suspected this, even though I’ve never read any scientific research on it.
I mean, think of how many times we’ve stared into our smartphone’s screen in a restaurant, instead of talking to our friends.
Or think of the countless times we’ve jumped up from our chair to check the latest WhatsApp notifications about super important things like a dumb video our friend desperately wanted to share with us.
Our smartphone beeps all day long, and we have a compulsive desire to check all the notifications instantly. They’re not emergency calls, are they? What would we do if we were doctors on call?
A webpage takes more than 2 seconds to load? Let’s check Instagram for a second. Time is precious; we can’t waste any of it.
Lunch break? Whether we’re alone or in company, it’s always the perfect time to check all the existing social media accounts we have. We’re hanging out on the smartphone all the time. Even in the toilet. Let’s admit it.
So, I sometimes feel totally dumb with or without any scientific research to prove it.
They could have saved time doing that study. Don’t you think?
I love 5 Films About Technology by Peter Huang, because it gives you the chance to laugh at ourselves and the way we use our smartphones. The director doesn’t talk about technology as if it were a menace to humanity. He doesn’t judge us but simply tells five hilarious stories we can identify with.
“It’s just a very strange time in human history, and so I really want to talk about that.”
The short movie had a successful online debut thanks to the New Yorker, and the director also presented it in his home town at the TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) 2016 before making American audiences laugh at Sundance 2017.
Watch it now and have fun!
Download your Transcript and Glossary – 5 Films About Technology
Five Hilarious Stories
- “Sunday With the Girls”
In the first story, you can see three young women at brunch interacting with their phones instead of each other. They photograph their food as if they were taking part in an Instagram photo contest.
- “Sunday With Yourself”
A young boy watches porno at home while his mum and sister are away. But they accidentally beam the sex scenes through their car’s Bluetooth connection.
The boy’s sister, Jenny, tries to recover from this trauma and takes a selfie of herself in a museum dedicated to genocide. The selfie goes viral.
- “Face Time”
Jenny’s friend texts her that she’s an idiot, then he drops his smartphone in the toilet bowl. Hmm, who is really an idiot?
Geoffrey bumps into a pillar while he’s using his phone.
Five short gags with unexpected effects. The quicker they run, the funnier they are, as if the director wanted to mimic the way we consume content on our devices, skipping from one thing to another in a superficial way. He made a great choice, even with the music. Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker is elegant, and with its gracefulness, it is in sharp contrast to the satirical scenes.
Let’s learn some mobile phone-related phrasal verbs so that you’ll be super expert at making phone calls in English.
Download your Mobile Phone Phrasal Verbs Worksheet here (fillable PDF Form).
Time to Take Action
Now that we have studied and laughed at ourselves, I think it’s high time to act.
Let’s stop being dumb and start using our smartphones in smart ways. If we don’t want our kids to behave like us or worse, we should give them an example to follow.
I’ve written a pledge for using smartphones intelligently. I hope you’ll agree with me and nod your head saying “Okay; I’ll try to do my best.”
Pledge Against Smartphone Addiction
1. To take the phone off the table.
It distracts me, and I have a compulsive feeling that I need to check it all the time. I simply cannot be present 100% in the moment and dedicate time to the person I’m eating with if the phone is on the table.
2. Not to use the vibrate mode.
It’s just annoying to hear the loud vibration in my pants. So, I’ll use the do not disturb mode!
3. To say goodbye to multitasking.
I cannot text while eating, drinking, walking, or talking. It seems rude and on top of it, I’m terrible at it. I’ll do just one thing at a time.
4. Not to use my smartphone as a first thing while I’m bored.
A bit of boredom, some moments to stare at the ceiling, can be an opportunity to daydream, reflect on things, and come up with ideas. My creativity would benefit from it.
5. To turn down my headphones every now and then to seem a bit more approachable.
Wearing my headphones all the time means, “Leave me in peace; I don’t want to talk to anyone.” That might be the case, but I’ll remember to make some exceptions.
6. To stop sharing and documenting every single moment of my life.
When I’m on holiday and I take a picture, I won’t share it with the whole world immediately. I won’t see a concert through the screen of my phone. And I won’t photograph my food; I’ll eat it instantly. I’ll be able to fully enjoy these moments in my life and feel the vibe.
7. To be offline for short periods.
I’m not going to go to the wilderness for weeks, but even short breaks from technology could be good for my wellbeing.
I know it’s hard. But I promise at least I’ll give it a try. What about you?