29/10/15 What was life like before the smartphone?

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The Guardian newspaper recently asked its readers this question, below are some of the answers.

nonsense: words that have no meaning or sense

a hold-up: a situation that causes delay

to run late: to be late for a meeting or appointment

to reach: extend your hand to try to touch something

to get in: to arrive at your destination (bus, train or plane)

to figure: to expect, consider or think about a situation

a git: an unpleasant or contemptible person

Vocabulary. Read and check you understand this before you read and listen to the article:


In the pub

“You could go to the pub and talk fun, sociable, drunken nonsense about all manner of topics with your friends. You were with your friends sharing stories, memories and opinions, and generally socialising.

Nowadays, if you want to contribute to a conversation, no matter how frivolous, then the smartphone police demand that absolutely everything you say is factually correct. Conversation becomes painfully slow as there’s always someone who’ll pull the damn thing out to verify anything said.”

Panic has replaced patience

2015: I am meeting my friend at one o’clock. It’s five past. I could give her longer, but I can also just Whatsapp her to find out where she is, what the hold-up is, if she is running late. I reach into my bag but I’ve left my phone at home. I start thinking: how long should I wait? What if she’s really late? What if she’s gone to the wrong place? What if she’s here but we can’t see each other? How can I get in touch with her? I don’t memorise mobile numbers anymore. I need an internet connection. Maybe I can get on Facebook and message her? At ten past one she taps me on the shoulder and makes me jump.

1996: I am meeting my friend at one. I sit outside the bus station reading a book, waiting for her bus to get in. It’s five past. It doesn’t even occur to me to start wondering where she is. I check my watch after a chapter. Twenty-five past. I figure she’s missed one bus and will get the next. I calculate she’ll arrive by two o’clock – after that I’ll go to the payphone, put in 10p and ring her mum’s house. I go back to my book. At ten past two she taps me on the shoulder and makes me jump.

Having to remember numbers and addresses

“When I was a lad, I used to remember lots of phone numbers and addresses (including post codes), as well as dates, times of appointments, birthdays etc.
Now? Well, it’s probably best not to go there… I appreciate that it may simply be because I am an old
git – but looking at all the youngsters around me, none of them seem capable of the same sort of memory that we all took for granted. Yes, we had diaries and address books and the like, but they weren’t used much on a day-to-day basis.”

Finding places and people

“Before smartphones, navigation involved a roadmap or A-Z street atlas. For me, that was a nightmare. Nowadays, I’m very happy to follow a cursor on a sat nav. And does anyone else remember the frustration of trying to find someone at a music festival or concert? We used to have an emergency meeting point in case someone got separated from the group. Once, at Glastonbury, I spent most of the day by myself and wasted half of it walking round and round looking for my mates.”

“Let’s chat about that!”

  • Do you know anyone who doesn’t have (or use) a smartphone?
  • What parts of your life do you consider have improved with the use of smartphones? And got worse?
  • Would you like to go back to pre-smartphone days? Why/Why not?

Write your answers and send them by email to your ECP coach. Why not record your voice too? Listen to yourself speak and identify what you have to improve on 🙂


Adapted from: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/oct/16/life-before-smartphones-it-was-ok-to-be-vague-about-things


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