Life Before and After Smartphones

Mobile Phone  FAD Magazine
Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Once the smartphone was placed in our hands, there was just no going back to the way things were before. Although the first smartphone was invented in 1992, it’s hard to dispute the fact that it was the iPhone in 2007 that changed everything about how we communicate – both online and in the real world. Granted, over a decade after its release the first generation iPhone may seem like a relic when compared to the iPhone X, but its initial release was a watershed moment nonetheless.

A change in the times and our behavior

It’s safe to say that us humans, at least primarily those aged roughly between 14 and 40, are rarely seen without a phone at least a few inches from our bodies. This is neither bad nor good – it’s simply the way things are in 2018. To be angry at the hordes of commuters all staring at their phones in the morning is to be angry at the wind or the sun – there’s just no fighting it now.

For those who grew up in the 90s and early 2000s, the difference in the way we live is wholly palpable. So which changes are for the better and which are for the worse? That’s up for you to decide.

The telephone call

For whatever reason, a ringing smartphone has become bad etiquette, a no-no, and something associated with danger. If it can be written in a text or email, then why would someone call you to say it? “I assume that whenever anyone does try to reach me on the telephone, it’s because of a bad, sad, serious emergency and I need to be reached urgently, possibly for a telling off”, writes Daisy Buchanan in The Guardian. The thought that someone is calling solely for a catch-up is becoming increasingly distant for many people, especially of the younger generation, as interacting person-to-person is seen as awkward and a possible annoyance.


It ought to be that we guard our phones with our lives, considering how expensive they’ve become and how much important data they hold, yet, the opposite is true for many of us. Cracked screens, abandoned in taxis after a night out, dropped in toilets… the way in which we treat our personal devices is nowhere near as careful as it once was. Is it because we don’t care about our phones? Not at all, but we have come to realize just how easily replaceable they are. The thought of having mobile phone insurance might still seem alien to some phone owners, but it’s astonishing as to how flippantly many expensive gadgets are treated – especially when we consider how many 90s kids still own the same Discman we used when we were 12 years old.


Imagine asking someone for directions in this day and age. Seems horrifying, right? Navigation apps are certainly helpful and all, yet they remove just one more real human interaction on the street. Why ask someone who could potentially give bad or unhelpful directions when Google Maps can tell you the way?

Settling arguments

Smartphones often help us get out of awkward situations – like being an excuse to look at something when we pass people on the street – but they are heavily used to settle disputes by containing all the information in the world. Although they do induce cheating in pub quizzes, there’s never an occasion where you simply stop the conversation even if you’re unsure of something.

Person 1: “Are you sure there are penguins in Australia?”

Person 2: “Yes, I’m quite sure of it!”

Person 1: “Hmm, that doesn’t sound true at all.”

The conversation could have ended just like that in 1999 and no proof could have been given. In 2018, however, the chat goes a little differently.

Person 1: “Are you sure there are penguins in Australia?”

Person 2: “Yes, I’m quite sure of it!”

Person 1: “Let me check on Google…ah yeah, you’re right. You can find penguins at Philip Island in Australia. How cool!”

The final take

There is no denying that smartphones have their perks. Being lost, lonely, or bored is essentially impossible with a smartphone, yet the real struggle is walking that line between useful gadget and addictive device. There are moments when our phone battery might die and we feel liberated for an hour or so. We feel like we have an excuse not to have our heads buried in the phone screen or waiting on tenterhooks for a message alert sound – we are simply living in blissful ignorance. Naturally, that state is shattered the moment we find a plug to charge our phone and the cycle resumes once again. Phone addiction is real and prevalent today, but living without a smartphone is, well, kind of boring and unhelpful sometimes. Finding a balance for yourself is so incredibly vital.

There are phones which strip away all the apps and fancy accessories, but at the end of the day, life still exists in the virtual and the real world. The two have formed an alliance of sorts and do benefit from each other, but we need to understand that a beautiful sunset doesn’t always need to be seen through the lens of your phone camera and uploaded to Instagram. See it with your eyes and appreciate the splendor first, then by all means, share that moment with the rest of the world via your smartphone.

About Staff

This piece was written by one of FADs talented but shy volunteer contributors. If you want to get involved, send a sample of your writing and a cover note to