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The Smartphone Hazard

What do premature wrinkles, icky germs and stiff wrists have to do with your phone? Answer: everything! Technology is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand and stabs you in the back with the other. Rajiv Makhni writes more.

india Updated: May 21, 2012 12:16 IST
Rajiv Makhni

Technology is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand and stabs you in the back with the other. And modern technology has proven this phrase to be more true than anything else. Not over-the-top dangers like an exploding battery or overheating computers. Dangers of mundane, everyday use of our phones and Tablets and laptops.

The Wrinkler

Let me start with a startling new one. Your phone may be the reason you will look ten years older than you are, get early deep-set wrinkles, get crow’s feet around your eyes faster, need power glasses much quicker and go in for botox and plastic surgery much earlier than anticipated. And no, this is not a ‘maybe’ and a ‘you might’ situation. This is pretty much guaranteed.

SmartphonesStudies have shown that the ultimate convergence device, the god phone, the tool that can do all, is also great business for plastic surgeons. Think about it. We use it to browse the Web, read long emails, get onto Facebook, play games, type out every minute of our life on Twitter, create complex documents, use 25 different apps in multi-tasking mode – all on a screen that is about three inches big and a keyboard that has ridiculously small keys.

Without even knowing it we are contorting our faces, squinting our eyes, straining our face muscles, frowning down, creasing our foreheads and generally doing everything to make sure our faces show the brunt we bear of our forever connected lives. Plastic surgeons have found that their clients are coming in much younger and have deep wrinkles at the strangest of places. New surveys show that phone usage minus voice calls has risen by almost 3,000 per cent. Smartphone sales are now outstripping the sale of any other device. More people are going online for the first time on a mobile phone and more than 15 billion apps have been downloaded. Each of these is a sure pointer towards a faster ageing and wrinklier planet of people.

The Toilet Bowl in your pocket

They’ve said it before and they’ve proved it before. Your phone is extremely unhygienic. It’s just that nobody is willing to listen. So, let me try and put it in a different way. Your mobile phone is 1,000 times more unhygienic, germ-infested, bacteria- laden and dirtier than the inside of your toilet bowl. Would you put your lips one inch close to the inside of your toilet bowl and still be comfortable? Would you be able to repeatedly and lovingly kiss your toilet seat? Well, then maybe you should stop physically kissing your phone irrespective of how much you love the person on the other side (making those smacking

muuuahhh air-kissing sounds is pretty sickening too, but mainly to the people around you).

Everything you touch, every person’s hand you shake, every doorknob you open – all things in contact with your hands are instantly transferred to your phone. You breathe into your phone, you spray all the lovely insides of your mouth directly onto your phone when you speak loudly. A cold, a cough, all the nice little viruses that give you a fever end up smack bang on your phone. And they all stay there. Consider this: have you noticed that your cold or cough seems to last longer than it used to, and usually recurs? It may well be your germ-infested little communicator that is guilty.

They lurk everywhere

There are others. Big ones. Constantly checking your phone to see if you have a new mail every ten seconds, setting mobile Facebook to refresh every minute, posting to Twitter as soon as you wake up about the exciting fact that you’ve woken up, tapping hard on the red light of your BlackBerry to see if it has malfunctioned if it doesn’t flash every few minutes – all these are signs of mobile phone addiction. Stiff fingers, painful joints, wrists that seem to burn and and palms that aren’t as supple as they used to be are all sure pointers to mobile carpal tunnel syndrome.

And the dangers of using a cellphone pressed against your ears for long periods of time every day and what it is doing to your brain are no longer question marks. It is harmful – just how much is the the only part left to solve.

The idea to write this column isn’t to frighten you off technology. It is more a cautionary tale. Technology is the greatest enabler, the only true catalyst to propel us into the future. Its abuse and misuse is the real danger. Wipe your cellphone clean every night with a cotton wipe. Use larger devices like Tablets and netbooks to do the bulk of your on-the-move work. Shut off your mobile phone when you get back home. The humbling experience that you’re not that important and the world continues to revolve without you may not be good for your ego. But it will be great for your face.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3. Follow Rajiv on Twitter at

- From HT Brunch, March 27

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