Technology is taking over my life.
I’m not proud to admit this, but the other morning I was checking my phone while walking down the stairs. Needless to say I ended up at the bottom of the stairs a little bit quicker than I intended.
I have a work phone with all the smartphone apps on it, and an ‘old’ mobile that only has a camera, access to the internet, and a handful of games as my personal phone after leaving my own smartphone in an airport.
As well as realising I should pay more attention while walking downstairs, I’ve come to realise how much I rely on my apps. I use an app to park when I don’t have any change. I check my Twitter and my Facebook far too regularly for sense. As I watch TV I’m googling to find out some snippet of information or other to add to the useless pool of trivia that swirls between my ears.
What if my signal drops out and I can’t access any of these things? How will I keep in touch? How will I function? How will I see what my friends have had for dinner, how often they’re at the gym, what their cats are up to and what events I’m missing out on?
It’s quite scary how much a part of life they’ve become for people like me, not least when I heard last week of the man who used to be in charge of Russia’s nuclear missiles in the ’80s.
During the Cold War his computers fired up, bells clanging, alarms whistling, lights blazing, to tell him America had launched a nuclear strike.
He ignored his computer.
How? I can’t ignore my phone when it says someone’s posted on my Facebook, so how can you ignore a warning of potential Armageddon?
The right thing for Stanislav Petrov to do was to report the strike, then press the button marked launch, to get Russia’s counter attack underway.
But he realised there was no corroborating evidence, that five missiles being launched was too few, and the early-warning system he was in charge of was too new to be trusted.
He reported it, instead, as a computer malfunction and luckily no missiles fell.
Possibly I should take a leaf out of his book and ignore my phone. It might be healthier in the long run.