The 'Daddy' of the Metrosexual, the Retrosexual, & spawner of the Spornosexual

Tag: smartphones (page 1 of 1)

End of the Road For Boys’ Toys?

Mark Simpson on how young men fell out of love with the motor car

In the James Bond film ‘Spectre’ Bond has a new car. An Aston Martin DB10. It looks very nice and very sleek. But it’s nothing like the DB5 that first appeared in Goldfinger, back in 1964 and which I had a Corgi scale model of, complete with spring loaded ejector seat and plastic machine guns that emerged from the headlights. A highly-prized toy which I played with for much of the early 1970s, imagining myself all grown up and in the driving seat.

I’m sure it’s a much better car in every way than the DB5, and has even better gadgets fitted as standard, but the reason the DB10 is nothing like the original Bond car is because boys are nothing like they were back then. Cars are not the coveted, magical things able to transport you to manhood they once were and probably no boy is going to play with a DB10 Corgi scale model making brum-brum noises.

Not even James May.

In 1983, the year I took my driving test, 82% of 16-24 year olds were learning or had learned to drive. It was a rite of passage, particularly for young men – a driver’s licence was a badge of adulthood, declaring that you were a ‘man of the world’ even if you were still a virgin and weren’t legally able to vote or order a pint in a pub.

Three decades on that figure has fallen to 64%, driving tests are down by 200,000 in the last four years, and seems likely to continue to fall, especially for young men, according to a new report from the Independent Transport Commission and Office of Rail and Road. 15% of non-car owners aged 17-29 say they don’t want a car in the future compared to twice as many (32%) of non-car owners aged 30-42 saying they do. It also found that car usage amongst under 30s, regardless of car ownership, is continuing to fall.

The report found several reasons for the decline: the rising cost of car insurance – which can be twice as much for young men as for women – and the rising cost of car ownership was cited by a third of young people. “How can young people possibly afford to run a car?” said one 28-year-old male from London. “If you manage to get an older car it’s no advantage because you pay more road tax and burn more petrol.”

An increasing number of young people are going to university and accumulating debts while real wages and employment rates for young people have fallen in the last ten years, making cars less affordable. Meanwhile concessionary travel, advance rail fares, car-sharing, and car clubs are cheaper than running a car. The quality of public transport in urban areas is also improving – and more young people are living in urban areas.

The report mentions other reasons why young men in particular are driving less, such as they form partnerships and become fathers at later ages compared to women, they are more likely to cycle – and are less concerned with personal safety than women. It also speculates that the theory test may have made driving licenses more difficult to obtain for working class males.

But perhaps the most interesting finding was that car ownership, especially of high end cars, no longer leads to higher status in the eyes of other young people. Even if they have an ejector seat. Cars are becoming less attractive than alternative gadget-rich consumer products, such as smartphones – which also happen to make using alternatives to car ownership, such as Uber and BlaBlaCar, easier.

Alternatives which, unlike driving a car, allows you to continue uploading your devastating selfies to Facebook.

Not only are smartphones more personal than cars – you always have your smartphone with you and your friends will always see it – but also, in an age when young men are much more visually-conscious than in the past, the kind of car you are likely to able to afford, unless you’re a professional footballer, is probably not the kind you want to be seen in. And even if you can afford a flash car you probably won’t be seen in it very much.

Worst of all, it’s not you that gets the looks – it’s the car.

As one 19-year-old builder in Manchester put it: “I like strutting around the town – let’s face it – in a car it’s the car people look at not you – when you’re walking people notice what you’re wearing and how you look. Although I say it myself I put on quite a good show – I take great interest in fashion.”

Today’s young men have fallen out of love with the motor car and in love with themselves. Probably the only DB they’ve heard of is David Beckham.

Originally appeared on Hitachi’s Expert Blog 11/08/15

Smartphones & Stupid People

Mark Simpson on the epidemic of ‘techno-hypnosis’ stalking our streets

Remember the Japanese Tamgotchi craze of the Noughties? Remember how we all laughed at the foolishness and childishness of the little hand-held digital pet that demanded constant attention and ‘feeding’, otherwise it would ‘die’?

Well, we’ve all got one now – but we call it a ‘smartphone’. And it’s much more demanding than the old Tamagotchis – so much so that they’ve convinced us that we are the ones that will die if we don’t devote ourselves to them. Smartphones are, like, totally fascinating. Soooo cool. Amazing. Literally. Seriously. Really. THIS!

In truth, smartphones are jealous, vicious little digital pets – such fiendishly well-designed distractions that there’s very little that can compete with them. Your partner, your job, your kids and even a fast-moving, very heavy lump of metal, glass and rubber, tend to get neglected. Tamagotcha!

You might feel you’d die without your smartphone, but actually your smartphone might kill you. Earlier this year a 32 year-old woman from North Carolina lost her life in a head-on collision with a recycling truck, apparently while using her phone to post on Facebook how happy Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ song made her.

Reportedly she had also managed to upload selfies of herself while driving.

This kind e-distraction may be behind a sudden rise in road accident casualties. In the UK the number of deaths on the road increased last year by 4% to 1,775. The number of serious injuries increased by 5%, to 22,807, and a total of 194,477 people were killed or injured – the first increase in overall casualties since 1997.

And it’s not just distracted drivers, it’s also distracted pedestrians that appear to be behind the rise. The number of accidents caused by both drivers and pedestrians ‘failing to look’ has risen by 12% over the last decade, according to figures from the department of transport. Across all reported road accidents, failing to look properly by all road users was the most frequently reported single contributory factor to a crash, being named in 44% of accidents, compared to 32% ten years ago.

In accidents where a pedestrian was killed or injured, pedestrians failed to look properly in 59% of cases. Which begs the question, how many people have been run over while staring at their phones by a driver also staring at their phone?

Road safety campaigners have blamed both drivers and pedestrians for being glued to their gadgets. Edmund King, President of the AA in addition to cautioning on how some car drivers may be becoming complacent in their increasingly comfortable, gadget-filled cars, also identified the rise of the ‘iPod zombie’ as a serious problem.

‘Pedestrians who have earplugs in or iPhones out,’ he told The Times recently, ‘they are listening to music or texting and they are not concentrating on traffic on the road. Walk down the road and 50% of people are on their phones. One wonders what we did before the mobile phone. Maybe we looked around a bit more.’

Indeed. Today’s road user might be forgiven for thinking that pedestrians can’t cross the street now without updating their Twitter status as they go, gawping and jabbing at their screen as they shuffle absent-mindedly over a four lane highway, trying desperately to think of something witty to share with their online friends.

Perhaps a solution would be to make cars look like really cool apps? Then they might actually be noticed by today’s i-Zombie pedestrians. I mean, who would want to admit they were run over by Instagram or Tripadvisor?

The AA has, more sensibly, called for road safety to be taught on the national curriculum. The Institute of Advanced Motorists urged the government to reintroduce road safety targets which were dropped by the coalition government in 2010. The transport minister Andrew Jones has reminded us that thanks to new laws there are increased penalties for using a mobile phone at the wheel: three penalty points and a £100 fine.

But I have a hunch that the only real solution to our current state of techno-hypnosis is going to be even more technology.

Such as the new roadside apparatus that detects when mobile phones are being used in cars. Currently being tested in Sussex, it uses a Vehicle Activated Sign (VAS) and a mobile detector which can’t be set off by pedestrians on their phones. The sign flashes a warning if a vehicle drives by with someone inside using a mobile phone.

Presumably something along the lines of ‘GET A LIFE!!!’

I fear however, that whatever the warning is it still won’t be noticed until they find a way to mirror the message on the screen of the phone user.

At the moment, it can’t differentiate between a driver and a passenger, and officially the purpose of it is meant to be educational, though this may change in the future as the technology becomes more accurate.

Personally, I think these i-Zombie detectors should be made less accurate – they should also flash at pedestrians staring at their phones.

Of course, the final solution to the Tamagotchi epidemic is total surrender – in the form of fully-autonomous cars, which will allow drivers to devote themselves fully, legally and safely to fiddling with their phones when on the road. At the moment however we’re stuck in a transitional period, where the technology has made driving deceptively easier, our cars more boring, and our phones impossible to ignore – but we’re still supposed to be fully present and in charge.

Frankly speaking, too often we’re not – or don’t deserve to be.

Once widely-introduced, driverless cars are estimated to be likely to reduce deaths on the road by up to 90%. Of the three Google driverless cars involved in accidents during testing in the last six months, human error was found to be at fault in 100% of them. Usually they were rear-ended by distracted humans.

Probably updating their Facebook page with a photo of a Google car.

Tartphones

Martin Lindstrom writing in The NYT today (‘You Love your iPhone. Literally.’) claims to have found evidence, using fancy-pants neuro-imaging technology, that people are not ‘addicted’ to their smartphones as is commonly suggested, but rather, ‘love’ them.

And not, like, ironically. Or like ‘I heart my iPhone’. But like they love a person. Or how they used to love a person. Before iPhones replaced people.

But most striking of all was the flurry of activation in the insular cortex of the brain, which is associated with feelings of love and compassion. The subjects’ brains responded to the sound of their phones as they would respond to the presence or proximity of a girlfriend, boyfriend or family member.

In short, the subjects didn’t demonstrate the classic brain-based signs of addiction. Instead, they loved their iPhones.

When the iPhone was launched in 2007 I diagnosed its appeal, without the use of neuro-imaging technology, or even access to the actual product, as being a form of narcissism. Takes one to know one, I guess. The clue is in the ‘i’, of course:

Imagine the perfect relationship.

Imagine a relationship so perfect that it will be the only one you need. One that is better and cooler and smarter than all the rest. A relationship that will make you the envy of your friends and the centre of attention at dinner parties. Imagine a relationship that is entirely controlled by you.

A relationship, in fact, that is – finally! – all about YOU(I know I have).

Imagine the iPhone. The perfect lover. The perfect friend. The perfect child. The perfect accessory. The perfect kit. The perfect kick. Walking, talking technosexual porn.

Not forgetting of course that by putting t’internet and GPS navigation in your pants, smartphones make it much easier to ‘stray’, or ‘cheat’ on anyone you might still be having an actual, real-time, old-time relationship with. Or just pursue discreetly your hitherto hidden fantasies. To find out more about you. Which is an endlessly fascinating story, naturally.

And no matter how many people you hook up with through your tartphone you’ll always remain faithful — to your phone.

The iPhone is really the Iphone. It’s a direct line to yourself. Now, isn’t that a call we all want to take?

I now have a smartphone myself, natch. And because I have a certain knee-jerk disdain for the ‘gorgeousness’ of Apple so lauded by most of my media friends — and didn’t fancy a love-triangle with Steve Jobs — I picked up a more homely-looking Android (Samsung Galaxy S). Like most more homely-looking lovers, it works a lot harder at pleasing me.

And, yes, we’re very much in love, thanks for asking. Until the next upgrade.

Tip: DAKrolak