BLAISE TAPP: Maybe we shouldn't bank on our smartphones so much

There are more people on this planet than at anytime in its history, yet it appears that we are determined to reduce the amount of contact we have with one another.

Wednesday, 12th July 2017, 8:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:25 am
Is relying too much on smartphones destroying the ability to maintain a human connection?

Millions of words have already been written about how the unstoppable rise of social media means that society runs the risk of creating future generations that are incapable of forming proper relationships.

In an increasingly rare foray away from the dynamic world of BBC Radio 1 – not my station of choice – the other week, I heard a very clever lady give a 30-minute radio lecture as to why smartphones and the likes of Facebook could lead to an evolutionary blip, meaning that youngsters might well struggle to communicate as well as their forebears do.

I share her concerns, especially as I am someone who really has to work hard at putting the phone away when spending ‘quality time’ with my kids. But it isn’t just social media which is in danger of us holding us back as the advance of all technology endangers the most basic of human instincts.

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In one of my rare lunch breaks last week I took advantage of the sunshine and went for a brief walk to my bank, very proud of the willpower I demonstrated by walking by both a Greggs and a chippy without stopping once.

The reason for going to the bank was to transfer some cash to a chap who has just completed work at Tapp Towers.

I was pleasantly surprised not to see too much of a queue, and I was quickly seen by a very nice member of staff who has served me countless times in the past.

But before she carried out my request, she valiantly attempted to steer me away from future visits to her counter, which actually resembles one of those podiums they used on the classic 1980s daytime quiz show Going for Gold.

Her argument which, despite my polite protests, was made several times, was that an app on my mobile would save me time. My feeble, but honest, answer surprised even me.

‘I want to get out of the office and speak to somebody’ is something I would expect somebody’s gran to say but it is how I feel.

Even though I am a one-man technological disaster zone I am not afraid of progress and do perform basic banking functions online, but there are some things which I believe are too important to do on a smartphone.

My mood didn’t improve when, not long afterwards, I dropped into my favourite shop – the one where everything costs the same – only to find they had done away with most of the manned tills, replacing them with the automated equivalent.

While I don’t have a problem with self-service checkouts, I do want to be given the choice and I do object to being patronised by a young chap wearing a lanyard who cheerily attempted to guide me away from the only human cashier on duty. Naturally I declined and the cashier seemed genuinely delighted that a customer opted for fleeting human contact.

My brief rebellion against progress came in the same week we learned that sex robots – designed for the lonely and the elderly – are currently under development. I am not sure about you, but the prospect of getting up close and personal with Metal Mickey – or Michaela – leaves me cold.

There are enough of us on the planet, so perhaps we should try a little harder at human relationships.