Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Are smartphones replacing pets?

The irony: an iPhone 4 photo of Lil Puss, which just happens to make her look like a scary robot.

In a fabulous little book entitled How to Thrive in the Digital Age (London: MacMillan 2012), Tom Chatfield raises the question about whether we are increasingly relating to technology over people and animals we love.

In coffee shops and living rooms, personal digital devices are handled with a solicitude and frequency that might once have been reserved for a partner or favourite pet. For a generation of so-called digital natives, a mobile phone is often the first thing you touch when you wake up in the morning and the last thing you touch when you go to bed at night (p12).
I must admit this particular passage sent a shiver down my spine. I enjoy my smartphone, it allows me to catch up on work when I might normally not (ad breaks, in the bath, on the bus) BUT it also means I do MUCH MORE. I feel obliged to be connected. 

Is Tom Chatfield right, or can we continue to give our pets (and significant others) the time they need in the so-called digital age?