The Death of Conversation: We are living in our own bubble! – By: Dhanpaul Narine

Phone with apps

By: Dhanpaul Narine

We are in our own bubble. We are disconnected, twittered and photo-shopped. In our world of OMG, LMAO, GTG and WTF, we are by ourselves in a group, oblivious of the world around us. Our universe has shrunk to texts, emails, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Facebook, Instant Messaging, and Skype, and we communicate without lifting our eyes from the small screen.

Conversation has become a thing of the past. Face-to-face interaction, uninterrupted by a hand-held device, is to be mourned. Quality talk is dead. The planet of the apps has taken over. We are witnessing human devolution, according to some observers.      

The news travels with the speed of lightning. There are touch-tones, video links, instant messaging, laser displays, satellite conferencing, robotic doctors performing complicated surgeries, and the most breathtaking of them all, the smart phone.

The information is at our fingertips and it is driven by the ubiquitous and unpretentious applications or apps. There are several networks that install apps with remarkable finesse to keep us connected. We are overwhelmed and saturated by choices, and whether we accept it or not, we are living on the planet of the apps. In 2007, Steve Jobs had a vision; he revealed to us that the smartphone would change the world. He has been proven correct millions of times over.

The smart phone has invaded our lives. It has taken over privacy and is shaping society in a way that few would have imagined ten years ago. The statistics are worrying. The average smart phone has over 40 apps and ‘each day new mobile devices are activated than there are children born into the world.’ Researchers have found that over 1.3 million Android devices are activated each day. What this means is that in the space of 24 hours four times as many smart phones are set up than babies are born.

Once a smart phone is activated it keeps us busy. The average person checks his or her smart phone at least 150 times a day. The apps are checked daily for around 130 minutes, while surfing the web and checking and sending emails, take up a big chunk of time. The smart phone has around 45 apps that are used regularly but how many apps are in existence?

According the latest figures, the number of apps that are in the United States, including Apple and Google versions, amount to a staggering 1.5 million. There are 750,000 of these in the Apple App Store and about 450,000 of them have never been downloaded. The life of an app can be short and swift as one in every four is discarded, after its first use.

While the use of apps in social media is widespread, it is in the gaming industry that the apps have made their presence felt. In the last year, apps in the gaming industry have accounted for nearly 50 per cent of usage. The figures for social media are not as high as one might think. The apps that are used in social media are around 26 per cent.

We live in an age in which health and wellness matter. One would have thought that there would be an explosion of apps that relate to health issues, but surprisingly, these apps account for only 1 per cent of the media content.

It is estimated that by the end of 2020, there will be about 2 billion smartphones that are connected and around 2 billion apps would be downloaded. This means that there will be an app for almost everything.

This abundance of technology may not be the panacea to cure all ills. One of the drawbacks is that the apps have created a sense of dependency. We feel lost without them. The telephone kiosks with the slots for coins have faded away as the latest smartphones hit the market. But there are questions of privacy. How safe are we with voice recorders, cameras and instant messaging?

Despite the drawbacks, studies have found that the smartphone and its apps could be beneficial to society. One study state that, ‘in developing countries every ten extra mobile phone per 100 people increase the rate of growth of GDP-per-person by more percentage point-by say, drawing people into the banking system.’

Asian countries were running away with the internet and the result was felt in the booming economies of the region. These included countries such as Taiwan, Japan and South Korea with China not far behind. But Africa has played ‘catch up’ with remarkable speed and it is rapidly expanding its smartphone capability. The continent sees itself as the fastest growing market for mobile phones. During the years 2000 to 2010, smartphones grew by 30 percent in Africa, when compared to the previous ten years.

The rise of the smartphone poses questions about the development of apps to run them. One view is that the efforts to develop apps should be made relevant to the needs of the continent. Some of the key providers such as Nokia, Samsung, Blackberry and Tecno are taking account of this view.

South Africa is the largest smartphone market, followed by Tanzania, Nigeria and Kenya. The launch of Uber in South Africa is seen as an exciting innovation. This app puts transportation at one’s fingertips. As far as the future is concerned, it is expected that the rising consumer class in Africa will create the market that will define the role of app developers.

Asia has had the lead in smartphone technology. The major online retailers say that more than 60 per cent of their purchases are from Asia, especially Japan. The messaging app LINE has more than 100 million users in Asia and more than 10 per cent are Japanese. When the mobile carrier Domeco entered the market, customers had to pay about $3 per month to use it. Why was Domeco so popular? The answer is that most Japanese access the internet using their phones rather than their personal computers. Since the majority of Japanese use trains to go to work it affords them the time to do business on the web, to play games, and network.

One of the biggest users of smartphones is China with a market of 240 million and this is expected to reach half a billion by the end of 2020. The US has a user population of 150 million. Once the Great Firewall is lifted, the apps competition will burst at the seams for the Chinese market. India boasts the ‘big bang’ in smartphone use and was Asia’s fastest growing smartphone market in the first quarter of 2018.

One cannot discount usage in Singapore and Hong Kong where over 60 percent of the population has smartphones. One of the drawbacks to this technology is addiction. The addiction to social media and video downloading is seen as a disorder and psychiatrists are working to have them listed in the manuals. Treatment centers have been set up in South Korea, China, Taiwan and Singapore.

The millions of apps and smartphones have drowned out real conversations and relationships. They have changed us; when we are with each other we can’t resist being busy on Facebook, and other feeds. We shake hands without making eye contact. We sit through college lectures playing with our phones. We are wired, we block out the world. It is our new reality. One way out of this is to put away the smart phones, and other forms of social media, for one day each week.

As a start, it would be great to find out who your neighbors are, and greet them with a smile. It could lead to a wonderful conversation.


Disconnect to Connect –By: Dhanpaul Narine

The Revolution is in our living rooms

and it is digitized!

There’s inbox, outbox, and drop box,

with miles of cables, sockets and dockets

And endless satellite links,

to display websites in their thousands.


We spend hours on search engines,

drowned in the world of instant:

Replays, messaging, facetime and skype,

and there’s zillions of apps

To immerse us in a new vocabulary.

We’ve become dumb on smart:

phones, laptops, games, texts,

You’ve got mail, podcasts and headphones

that shut us from the world,

Where search, post, and send is a click.


Yes, the Revolution is digitized

We’re hooked up, addicted, uneducated,

Standing in corners by ourselves

With busy fingers, beckoning internet apnea.


So, let’s slide to disconnect,

to free the monster

and reclaim the inner space,

with affirmations,

where we can breathe again,

walk in the park, read,

and listen to the birds.

Let’s disconnect to connect!

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  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 10/25/2020 at 3:27 pm

    Well said, Dr. Narine! Our disturbing reality in this new technological age. I continue to resist upgrading to a smartphone and its all-consuming apps. I care not about those who laugh at my flip mobile phone. Now my banker, under the guise of our social distancing regulations, insists that I use its mobile app for my banking needs. Aagh!

  • wic  On 10/25/2020 at 11:56 pm

    I can assure you both that my desktop computer works just as well as an I-phone. However, a cel phone with a GPS is useful in the case of an emergency when has a problem on the road or is trying to locate a direction in particular, that of an unfamiliar address.

  • wally n  On 10/26/2020 at 2:21 pm

    My grandson he is seven, love him has a personality, has an opinion on every subject, wrong or right. Mother and father deep into all the new technology, actually father does security for College Systems.He visits occasionally, last visit, grandson deep into his tablet, my wife stumbling with her Iphone, a gift from the children, a must have they insisted. My grandson reaches over touches a few keys, my wife then says, thanks.
    I had to get involved, told him, you put the tablet down, sit next to your grandmother and then explain what she needs.
    The truth is I was experiencing the beginning of end of his ability to have a conversation, and interaction, could feel a slight sadness.
    We treated computers as tools, now it has completely reversed,it seems….

  • dhanpaul narine  On 10/29/2020 at 9:34 pm

    I hear you loud and clear. I can relate to Wally. The kids know all about the technology these days. I was visiting a class some time ago. The kids, about 8 years old, were reading (yes reading) and then the smart board stopped showing the documentary. I looked vainly for the switches and knobs. A child got up and calmly went to the computer and clicked on something. The movie came on again and she went back to her book, as if nothing had happened. I stood there, smiled and shook my head!

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