Posted on January 20, 2017 by Xavier Toby

Apps. What is the point of them?

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This article first appeared in the Herald Sun and Rendezview

Can you think of anything in the world that claims to be so useful, but is so completely useless, as the majority of mobile phone applications?

Apps are the virtual version of every infomercial.

All glitz, glamour and promises, but in reality so much wasted effort for very little return.

They are the electronic exercise bike, pixelated pasta maker, virtual vacuum sealer, pointless gigabytes worth of non-fat grills and multiple miracle pillows worth of wasted memory and money.

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Back when I acquired my first smartphone in the first decade of the 2000s, if you can remember back that far, I wasted a few weekends browsing the available apps, and downloading with the abandon of a politician collecting cheques at a benefit dinner.

Become a master chess player, organise your life, learn a word, travel the world, get to know the night sky, count your steps, and your calories, a different cat for every day of the year, and pop virtual bubble wrap. All in the convenience of your phone!

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I even paid a few dollars here and there, so I could do it all without adverts, and in total I spent over fifty dollars on app purchases.

Then in additional data charges for that first month, from the apps running in the background, although they were barely being used, I blew over five hundred bucks.

So after trying for one month to properly utilise the convenience and wonder of my phone to be my best self both inside and out, keep up to date, stay informed and never miss a moment, I deleted them all.

Not just because of data charges.

No matter how convinced I was that an app would be useful, I never used any of them. More than once.

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There are a few I still use.

Just kidding! Of course there isn’t, because anything that’s properly useful is available through a web page.

I’ve got other stuff to do, we all do, and I thought the goal of technology was to make our lives easier. Not add layers of complexity and continually be removing us from the real life and real world.

All technology like mobile phone apps has done is replace old tasks with newer, more pointless and less fulfilling ones.

Instead of milking cows, handwashing clothes and interacting with real people, we’re entering calories, crushing candies, endlessly keeping up to date, scrolling through digitally enhanced pictures of birds and sunrises instead of ever noticing the real ones, and staging photos of brunches to convince online acquaintances that we’re permanently happy.

What. Is. The. Point?

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I yearn for a phone that can make calls, receive them and send texts, and even that’s a feature I could survive without.

Actually the GPS is handy as I have no sense of direction, but you can keep the rest of it.

Without email and text messages at my fingers, I might not feel the need to glance at my phone every two minutes and be again disappointed at the nothing that has happened.

Better yet, if I could better live in the moment and remember that my life, despite the lack of notifications, never stops happening, I might revel more in the living of it.

Since way too soon, as it is with all of us, the living will be over.

George Foreman Grill

This article first appeared in the Herald Sun and Rendezview

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.

His second comedy memoir ‘Going Out of My Mined’ is available now.

Real book:

http://uwap.uwa.edu.au/products/going-out-of-my-mined

Or eBook:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017VE81CQ