I have been slow to fully embrace the full potential my smartphone. I have a few apps that I use regularly for entertainment or basic information, like weather updates and maps. It’s convenient. I can entertain myself with games or social networking while I wait in lines or for a child to finish theater rehearsals, basketball/ballet/swimming practices. If I look up, most others waiting in parked cars are doing the same thing, a faint blue glow radiating from somewhere below the steering wheel. Before we had devices to entertain us, we would more than likely spend the minutes talking, person to person. I tend to think person to person is better, after all a pen and ink letter, sharing coffee at a small café table, or a supportive hug must mean more than emoticon symbols. But maybe these tiny pictures can convey the intended emotion and offer a substitute when the real thing must be delayed or is otherwise not possible. Where is the line at which an electronic emotion, or interpretation of feeling is no longer enough? When I first learned that there were suicide prevention apps, I was aghast. Have we lost so much human connectedness that even acute emotional despair is summarized in a miniature touch screen? How can an app provide the essential emergent interventions to a person in such despair that he or she is contemplating suicide? But if this is where our social focus is anyway, and the first place people search when looking for help, perhaps it is not such a bad idea.
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