Social Acceptance

I remember going to Europe before smart phones had become ubiquitous in the U.S. Always technologically ahead of us, and driven by economic factors, the Europeans were early adopters of handheld smartphones. I remember being entranced at all the people I saw talking and texting away in public. "This will never happen in the States," I naively thought.

Today, the ubiquity of smart phones and social acceptance of their public use seems to be global. In fact, I am hacking out this post on my Android phone at the Ohare airport, feeling not the least bit stigmatized since many people around me are behaving similarly - on phones, iPads, laptops. I am actually sitting next to an ever more common thing at airports...the electronics charging station. This one just has regular wall outlets, but there is another one nearby complete with USB connections as well.

As I was walking the C Concourse at Ohare to get to my connecting gate, I saw a woman pressing her entire iPad to her ear, using it like a phone to converse with someone at another point in cyberspace. She looked like she was pressing a small hot plate against her cheek.

That did strike me as a bit odd, but anything goes in the digital age. I would like to be able to say that smart phones and electronic devices are tools that make our lives less stressful and more expedient. I am not sure I would make that leap, after seeing someone hold a large glass and metal rectangle awkwardly against her head.

On the other hand, I am probably the late adopter here. After all, it is only a matter of degrees. My Android phone is nothing more than a rectangle of glass and metal, if perhaps a few times smaller than an iPad. I willfully risk low level radiation exposure whenever I hold it to my head to use it as a "phone," and increasingly I use it as more of a mini-tablet, writing e-mails, surfing Facebook, and - like now - posting to my blog. Its funtionality as a phone decreases all the time and I sometimes feel inconvenienced when I receive a call on it.

The social norms are ever shifting and one might say that those using this technology in interesting ways are nothing if not early adopters. So more power to the cheeky trend setting iPad user.

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