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Convenience, Is The Price Too High?


How many people have you met who do not have a mobile phone, or who don’t use email? How frustrating is it when we lose or break our mobile phones? Imagine what our lives would be like if these luxuries were taken away from us.

It would be difficult to argue that some of the advances in technology have not greatly improved our lives in the past few years. The idea that arranging to meet a friend would invariably involve one person waiting in a specific place at a specific time hoping that the other person would arrive on time is rapidly becoming a distant memory for most of us, and for the next generation it will be inconceivable.

With the developments in GPS technology our lives have found a much greater convenience, we need never read a map again. We simply follow the nice voice on the sat-nav and arrive at our destination on time. A person never needs to know how to get somewhere ever again. With the revelation that is Google maps this principle has been taken even further. We now simply input our starting point and our destination into the search bar and Google will plan the most appropriate route. So why would anyone ever want to waste time by looking over a map again?

In the last few years there has been a surge in social networking, with various different sites gaining and loosing popularity in their various localities around the globe, however one such site has risen above the others and it would appear to be the social network of choice all over the world. That network is Facebook. It has allowed us to keep in touch with people we would otherwise no longer have any contact with, and it has expanded our “circle of friends” into the hundreds, or in some cases the thousands. Whereas before, to keep in touch in such a way would have been difficult and so most simply would not bother.

In 2007 our world was made that little bit brighter again with the launch of the Apple iPhone. Since the mobile phone market has exploded with the launch of what is now known as a smart phone. The iPhone is on its fourth incarnation, and Google have developed their own OS for smartphone developers. The smart phone then has transformed what a mobile phone is. It is not enough to simply be able to make and receive calls anymore. Our phone has to be a camera and it has to be able to browse the internet to the degree that we expect on a desktop computer. The smartphone with its inbuilt GPS is capable of ensuring we never get lost again, as long as we pay for the updates. The iPhone and Google’s Android phones are now also becoming a close second for Facebook users who simply cannot get to their computer, but need to be constantly connected.

Has it gone too far, this quest to consolidate our phone; mp3 player; camera etc. all into one device? While there are obvious advantages, the fact remains that people are now leaving themselves seriously exposed. A few years ago, if your phone was lost or stolen, it was simply an inconvenience, whereas now, a person could easily gain access to someone’s email and Facebook accounts giving them potential access to all of that persons private information such as name, address, date of birth, and anything else which might be necessary to commit identity fraud.

We seem to be in an age where digital voyeurism has become acceptable. Through the combination of the social network, and the mobile phone with its inbuilt GPS, we can see not only what are friends are doing, but where they are when they are doing it. There is also the issue of where all of this information is stored. While we might be in an age where people are quite happy to waive their rights to privacy, where is all this data being stored, and by whom? What is to prevent this information from being sold to third parties for the purposes of profiling users. It is widely known that sites such as Google keep track of a users browsing history so as to display advertisements which will be relevant to the user. What’s to stop your personal information from being used in a similar way?

In the last ten years there has been an explosion in digital information, which has been made readily accessible via mobile devices for the convenience of the masses. However in the process it seems that convenience has outweighed our civil liberties as we have allowed “big brother” to creep into our lives, and given us ample opportunity to spy on each other. While there are those who would argue that our lives are infinitely more convenient now than they were before this technical revolution, it remains to be seen whether the price for such luxuries is unnecessarily high. Have we allowed our privacy rights to be utterly usurped?

The Views of this Your Say! article do not necessarily represent the views of the Fountain Resource Group. If you agree with this contributor, or perhaps you disagree and would like to write a response, feel free to email us at to have your say!

Fountain News DigitalThis article was originally published in:
Fountain News Digital – November 2010 (Issue 1)

We are re-publishing all articles from our past newsletter, Fountain News Digital, and you can view all completed newsletters here. There were nine issues published in total between 2010 and 2012.

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