Privileged to live in these times

COMMENT: Sell alcohol to kids and you will face consequences

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I’m a huge fan of the anonymous street artist Banksy, whose works I find thought-provokingly accurate observations of society and our social behaviour.

In Modern Love, for example, we see a couple embracing whilst, at the same time, checking their mobile phones over each other’s shoulders.

So are ‘smart’ phones a good or bad thing and will they change our lives for better or worse?

One only has to sit in a café, bar or airport departure lounge to understand how dependent we’ve become on our phones, tablets and laptops and it’s not unusual to see groups of people sitting in total silence with each engaged with their phones.

So are ‘smart’ phones a good or bad thing and will they change our lives for better or worse? I for one feel privileged to be living in these times and liken it to the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, when the dawning of the machine age changed manufacturing forever.

It was not without its detractors, from the Luddites who destroyed machinery around 1815, to William Morris and his followers who championed the romantic Arts & Crafts movement of the later 19th century.

Whilst both groups were accurate in their predictions that machines would deprive folk of their jobs, mass-production provided affordable goods to the masses.

Phones have come along way since the ‘Brick’, as it was affectionately known c1990, and today’s palm-sized smartphones can perform hundreds of different functions.

I have dozens of apps on my iPhone, from foreign languages and dictionaries to art reference and even the local taxi company has an app that enables you to book a taxi without having to ring them.

Most modern phones now have integral cameras for taking both still and moving images, as well as music storage, satellite navigation and much more.

The vision of Apple’s Steve Jobs and Microsoft’s Bill Gates cannot be overstated and I’ve no doubt that in 100 years from now, children will learn about their contribution to modern civilisation as we learned about Isambard Kingdom Brunel or Thomas Edison.

I am also fascinated by the ‘silver surfers’, a reference to the over-60s population who have embraced computers and smartphones, making new friends and renewing old acquaintances on social media websites.

Then there’s my granddaughters, who regularly use their iPads to make live video calls to my wife and I.

Our race is constantly evolving and whilst most of us dislike change, positive change is always welcome.

But where there are positives, we must accept there will always be a few negatives.