Joe Laliberte: Stopping the smart phone invasion

To: All BlackBerry and iPhone users at GW

From: Those of us who do not have a BlackBerry or iPhone

Subject: STOP!

Your iPhone or BlackBerry might be in your pocket or on the table in front of you as you read this. Please, put it out of arm’s reach for the next two minutes.

Please stop walking with your heads down like technological zombies, bumping into us as we walk around campus. You are not fooling anyone. There is no urgent e-mail message coming in. No one needs you that much.

Let’s be honest. You’re really on Facebook.

Please stop having lunch or dinner with us and placing your smart phone on the table. Just because you say “sorry” when you get an e-mail or text doesn’t lessen our urge to hurl the phone into some distant body of water.

Please stop sending us endless text messages. Our phones are ill-equipped to write novels in a matter of seconds with nothing more than our opposable thumbs sliding across a keyboard or screen.

Please stop telling us how cool it is that your iPhone can check movie times and sports scores, listen to Pandora, find restaurants and play a YouTube video – probably all at the same time. We really don’t care.

Please stop telling us that your BlackBerry has revolutionized texting and e-mail. We all know that you really want an iPhone.

And please, please, please do not leave your phone on vibrate during class if you intend to conduct a press conference from it for the whole hour and 15 minutes. At the very least, have the decency to switch it to silent.

You do not need 24-hour handheld access to your e-mail. The rest of us manage to enjoy the times of day when we don’t receive e-mails from GW, professors, Facebook and endless listservs. We enjoy walking down the street without a nagging vibration against our leg announcing an all-important e-mail.

Did you know that only 10 years ago, fewer than half of Americans said they owned a home computer, according to a study by The Pew Research Center for People and The Press? Today, 15 percent of Americans own an iPhone, BlackBerry or similar device, according to the same study.

I would actually place that number closer to 50 percent on our campus, through my own unscientific survey. My survey involved looking around one of my classes while a professor was trying to teach. I observed the number of people looking at their iPhone or BlackBerry placed not so discreetly in front of them and counted about half the class.

I guess this smart phone invasion is the next step for a generation that grew up with Nintendo, PlayStation and Xbox. We have grown up in an age of instant information and technological advances, and nothing short of the latest gadgets constantly at our fingertips will do.

What about the next 10 years? Instead of playing with Barbie dolls and Tonka toys, will children now download the “Vehicles” application on their iPhone and simply use their fingers to move the trucks around?

Do you remember that elated feeling as a child when your parents brought home a package filled with the cheapest, most enjoyable plastic ever created? This was, of course, bubble wrap. Well, have no fear – the iPhone has snapped that up too, with an application of the same name which rips the fun of popping plastic air bubbles right out from under our stomping feet.

Ten years from now, will everyone be so attached to their phones that human interaction will become obsolete? Instead of meeting someone for lunch, will we simply chat via video while eating a sandwich?

Well, we will take a stand. We will proudly separate our gadgets, with phones in one pocket and iPods in the other. We will not have conversations through text. We will intentionally bump into those looking down at their iPhone or BlackBerry.

Who’s with me? Nobody?

That’s what I thought.

The writer, a senior majoring in political communication, is a Hatchet columnist.

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