I think it’s time to discuss the major benefits of smartphones, the mobile technology that allows us to communicate with people sitting nine feet away without actually speaking to them.
There are many benefits of smartphones. I know this because I personally own a smartphone, and I feel highly benefitted. For instance: If I want to know the time, BOOM! There’s a clock. If I want to take a picture, BOOM! There’s a camera. If I want to call someone, BOOM! There’s a phone. To get all these functions in one place ten years ago, you would’ve had to drive to an Office Depot.
However, the greatest benefit of smartphones is and will always be how they’ve changed the experience of waiting in line.
Now, before I explain this to you, I should say that I already know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I’m wrong. You’re thinking that the greatest benefit of the smartphone is how you can use it to FaceTime with your newborn baby when you’re deployed overseas, or how you can use it to send a few e-mails without firing up your computer, or how you can use it to connect to your car’s infotainment system so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road while you’re driving.
As usual, you are wrong and I am right.
To explain my position, please allow me to help you understand what waiting in line was like before the smartphone came out, as many of you have likely now forgotten and/or blocked it our of your mind like childhood trauma where your favorite pet was run over by the leaf blowing guy.
In the pre-smartphone world of line waiting, what would happen is, you’d be standing there, in some dull line, possibly trying to register at a convention where they have separated the last name bins into “A through W” and “X through Z.”
So you’re one of like 27 people in the A through W line, and there’s nobody in the X through Z line, and you are bored out of your mind. You can’t do anything. You have to just sit there, unmoving, like a sloth, or a step ladder, or your pet after the leaf blowing guy incident.
And then, after a while, you begin listening to other conversations. This isn’t something you consciously do; it’s something your brain just picks up on when there’s nothing else to keep it occupied. But there’s a problem: these aren’t normal conversations. These are line waiting conversations, where nothing of any sort of importance has ever been discussed. Line waiting conversations are only one step above conversations with random people on the subway, in the order of conversational importance.
Here is an example:
Person 1: I am so excited for this convention!
Person 2: Oh, me too! I love conventions. I was just at one in San Diego!
Person 1: Oh, I love San Diego! I go there to see Shamu!
Person 2: Shamu? Is that an Asian rapper?
Person 1: No! That’s the whale at Sea World! You know, like Free Willy?
Person 2: Oh! I loved Free Willy! That scene where the whale jumps up like a space shuttle launch is so inspiring! And realistic!
Person 3: My son loved Free Willy! After he saw it, we knew we had to get him a pet. Then it got run over by the leaf blowing guy.
What I am trying to get at here is that line waiting, in the pre-smartphone era, was a boring annoyance at best, and at worst, a shining example of the impending downfall of the entire human race.
But now, in the post-smartphone era, I view lines as a treat. Here’s an opportunity to catch up on the news! I think to myself, whenever I see a line at Chipotle, or in the checkout aisle at the grocery store, or at my local Bank of America branch, which is open for approximately 62 minutes each business week, and from 9 a.m. until 9:15 on Saturdays.
So instead of dreading the line, I walk right up to it and I open up my smartphone. And instead of dealing with the boredom, and experiencing the dullness, and overhearing the idiotic conversations, I can stand there and become fascinated by all of today’s most important news and information, like the fact that CNN’s Breaking News team is reporting that Kim Kardashian lost a contact lens last night in Manhattan.
In fact, smartphones have changed line waiting so much that there are times when I’m standing there and I don’t want the line to end. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a massive technological revolution. I guess FaceTiming with your newborn baby is kind of cool too.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He divides his time between writing about cars and sitting around his house watching Gilmore Girls without any pants on. Also, he wrote this bio himself in the third person.