It is true that the smartphone has become the ubiquitous cybernetic extension of the human being. As the HTC advert says, its never more than an arms-length away from your body. It is not physically attached to you, but sometimes it takes physical amputation to get it away from you. It is your means of staying in contact with the world around you through voice and video calling, text/picture/video messaging and social media. It tells you where you need to be going when, how to get there and where to eat when you do. It keeps you entertained through games, you-tube and the kindle app and even lets you record your experiences to share with others. But instead of making us more efficient in our lives, it has become an extra distraction. Tablet computers seem to have become bigger versions of the mobile phone and seem to be mostly used for content consumption. I bought my tablet with a mind that not only would it provide me with rich content, but also allow me to manage my various work commitments. As such, on my home screen you will find a week-to-view diary of my meetings and engagements, a visual indicator of work emails, but also with an icon that will take me to my gmail account and to my Uni outlook account. I review the lectures I’m delivering on the packaged Polaris office app, write book reviews and sometimes even blog posts, and fit in guilt-ridden bouts of writing as well. The trouble is that Angry Birds is only a finger-swipe and a tap away from taking over the next 10 minutes of my time.
Distractions have always been readily available for the writer and for anyone else who leads a busy life, although technology has made it ever increasingly more present and accessible. Okay, so a video rental and your next read are only a 3G speed download away from landing in your lap and all the different strands of digital entertainment have been fitted into a single rectangular slate of glass and plastic, but are we really that scattered-minded and weak-willed that we can’t resist the lure of HD delights? Even more important than writing are the moments you need to make for family (sitting with them whilst chatting with someone on Facebook doesn’t count), the time to feed and exercise your body and developing your spirituality through prayer and meditation. For a Muslim, the focus of life should be around worship, personal health and well-being, family and then work, with enough rest and play thrown in to keep the mind fresh and light. Granted its not for everyone, but let us not get so obsessed with being consumers that we forget to stop and take stock of what is happening in the world and cosmos around us. Never forget that life isn’t about just living, its about living well.