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Smartphones: A blessing or a curse?

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Rapid advancements in technology have meant that smartphones have become more affordable and, naturally, more popular amongst the general population. For some, this compact tool is a life-saver – being able to organize several aspects of one’s life at the touch of a button. For others, this is a tool that throws a harsh light, exposing the dark underbelly of society.

Since the rise in popularity of social media – which is almost synonymous with cell phone usage – every move we make is documented. What we don’t document of ourselves, others are only too willing to do.{{more}}

Just last weekend, a video of a police officer in Georgetown discharging his weapon irresponsibly spread like wildfire, not only on social media, but also through instant messaging.

Further afield in the United States, police officers are being caught in cell phone footage physically assaulting citizens. Some make it out to tell their tales of injustice, while many others don’t; video footage tells it for them.

For decades, accusations of injustice, harassment and distress caused by others have broken down into ‘he say, she say,’ with no tangible evidence to support the claims. But now, video footage has resulted in numerous lawsuits, convictions and terminations of employment.

Case in point, a video showing the arrest of SEARCHLIGHT reporter Ari Shaw ended up being submitted as evidence in his court case, which was dismissed. The presiding magistrate even commented that the video of his arrest spoke “a million words”.

The smartphone has also dished out a harsh reality to teenagers and older persons alike, who have learnt the hard way that photographing or videoing ‘private moments’ can come back to bite them in the rear when put into the hands of the wrong person.

Many persons cast social media and smartphones in a negative light, blaming them for undesirable behaviour and actions. But the truth is that social media and smartphones only highlight what has been happening for a very long time – and will continue to happen, if not addressed.

Maybe what some persons are really upset about (and are probably in denial of) is the fact that their cocoon of ‘ignorance’ has been ripped apart – because out of sight equals out of mind, right? It’s easy to live happy and carefree when you don’t know what is happening around you and the world you live in. When you do know, however, it isn’t easy to ignore.

So, whether you believe smartphones to be a blessing or a curse, their capabilities have exposed issues that need greater attention. The solution is not to criticize and cast blame, but instead to take stock and rectify.

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