With Great Power Comes Great Battery Drain
19th May 2017
"With great power comes great responsibility". Responsibility to remember a charger at any rate. I don't think Ben Parker had smartphones in mind when he passed on this famous advice to his nephew, but I bet Peter Parker wished he had. Poor old Spider-Man. Like so many superheroes, whilst his outfit may have allowed just enough give to squeeze a slim smartphone in there, he was never going to find the space for the charger to go in as well. That's ridiculous. Why did nobody warn him society was about to change beyond recognition before he designed his outfit?
It would seem even superhero's, like everyone else, failed to foresee the huge impact smartphones would have on actually changing peoples behaviour in their day to day lives. Except for Batman that is. Batman knew. With his utility belt, Batman could carry both a phone and a charger with ease, plus a mirror, some matches, a swiss army knife, a Nintendo Switch, and some Haribo Sour Mix ... Everything a good boy scout needs to survive. Batman was always prepared.
Old Spidey on the other hand, come early afternoon, would be forced to abandon crime fighting altogether in a desperate search for someone who could lend him the use of their charger for a couple of hours. After all, what's the point in catching criminals, if you can't take a selfie of yourself doing it and post it on Twitter and Facebook as it happens? I say this as a joke, but sadly, I sometimes feel that this is what our reality has actually come to. I sometimes wonder if this is happening anywhere else in the universe or if it's just us here on Earth doing it?
I look around and there are people everywhere, taking selfie's and setting up events in their life purely so they can post it online to make it look like this is what actually happens in their 'ker-a-zee' life - even though it wouldn't actually have happened in their life at all, if they didn't just set it up to make it look like this is what actually happens in their 'ker-a-zee' life. I remember a time when the only person sad enough to do this was Mr Bean. It was a time before smartphones existed and he used his polaroid camera, but the joke was just as valid. I wonder if the armies of selfie takers today would even see it as a joke anymore, or would they just see another normal person taking a selfie?
And then there's the inane statements that accompany the selfie. Some kitsch comment to do with Prosecco or wine, and maybe a further post about a 'naughty' bag of sweets or a dessert they are eating off their cutesy inwardly positioned knees, just to further emphasise just how 'naughty' they are ... What a wheeze ... It's as if Bridget Jones herself was reading, envious of their antics and desperately wanting to click 'Like' herself ... A bag of sweets and a sip of cheap wine. Ooo, how 'naughty' ... Have 8 cans of lager and a wank on the sofa and put that on Facebook! That's naughty ...
I've composed myself again after that, maybe somewhat unjustified, little outburst. Don't do that on your sofa. People have got to sit on that. Perhaps I'm being overly irritated here by other peoples means of entertainment. It takes all sorts I guess. It's a free world, and after all it's none of my business what other people choose to post or like on social media. And I'm not exactly 'normal' myself and far from anyone to aspire to. But it is almost as if they are displaying some form of bizarre psychological need to outwardly impress with the contrived unreal, because they feel their uncontrived reality is just so much less interesting and far too boring to post? It probably is, so where's the harm in creating something more interesting to post instead? Although this does have me wondering what on Earth could possibly be out there that is less interesting than talking about Prosecco and taking photos of sweets on your lap? I'm racking my brains ...
Something strange has happened to humanity and it's relationship to the technology its genius few have created. Since smartphones enabled us mere grunts of humanity to all carry cameras and video recorders on us at all times, it seems we are no longer able to observe life through a lens. We have now become obsessed with observing and creating false contrived life, because it's through a lens. This seems to be the effect Social Media has on himanity. It's no longer enough to just take a picture of what you are looking at to preserve your memory in time, you now have to poke our own head in the bottom corner with some stupid f*cking look on your face, as if this some how improves the memory of the occasion. You should know you were there - you took the f*cking picture!
Does this not expose an unhealthy need to display something that you are not - even though nobody has even asked you to? Batman's butler, Albert, even expressed grave concerns to me the other day about similar recent changes in Batman's behaviour. He caught Batman setting up a scene to take a photo of some Bat Sweets on his lap with a glass of wine in the corner of the shot so he could post it online with a kitsch comment about "wine o'clock" to show Gotham City how 'naughty' he was. He didn't even drink the wine. I joked with Albert that it could be worse, he could have caught him wanking on the sofa after 8 cans of lager! Albert was disgusted.
Is this relatively new smartphone induced behaviour not indicative of some kind of vain mental health issue? And is it not troubling that billions of people across the globe are suffering from it? Or am I the crazy one for thinking this is crazy? Crabby, yes. Crazy, no. It's like real life has become an episode of Doctor Who. Like we've all got this alien technology that suddenly appeared in our hands that's making us all go a bit mental in the head and we don't even realise that it's happening to us. Soon it will have us prioritising the virtual us, over the real us, and there'll be deaths because of it. And, then, before we know it, we'll have all completely lost our marbles. And to think I'm writing this in Dementia Awareness week too.
Don't get me wrong, smartphones are great. Amazing in fact. All that power in the palm of your hand. A portable PC, with the internet, the largest and widest collection of human information that has ever existed, accessible to you 24/7, along with a camera, a radio, your entire music collection, films, games, videos - you name it, smartphones have got it. Even Batman's starting to wonder why he built his Bat Cave so f*cking big when he can do most of the stuff he needs from his tiny smartphone these days. Superman was telling me the other day that he suggested to Bruce about downsizing the Bat Cave and laying off Albert. Albert's just not needed anymore. After all, there's an app for everything these days ...
Except a decent battery life it would seem. But, I'm a rational person. I'm willing to accept that with all this great power comes a great strain on battery life. And if I wasn't OK with this, I could always get a Nokia 3310, recently re released for nostalgia purposes. But then no one really wants to do that just for a great battery life, on the count of the fact that you can only phone, text, and play snake on it. And while this used to be the raison d'etre of mobile phones decades ago, it isn't any more. In practical reality this would just mean that you'd carry your smartphone and charger around with you as well as your Nokia 3310, which completely defeats the purpose of having it in the first place.
Hopefully one day one of the genius few will discover how to create much longer life batteries in the same size slim blocks as we have now, so all us mere grunts can finally get rid of the need to carry a charger or spare battery around with us.
I know that Spider-Man for one would be very glad of this. He's not keen on having to settle for shoving a 17 year old remake of a brick down his spandex. As although if positioned correctly, the larger rock hard bulge in his outfit would have greatly facilitated his appeal to the ladies, it would have also weighed him down as he swung from skyscraper to skyscraper. He was already stressed he was falling behind Batman in the catching criminals selfie stakes as his battery kept running out, a Nokia 3310 would just make matters even worse for him in this respect.
Albert wasn't keen on the Nokia 3310 either. But it's all he could afford after Batman laid him off. He didn't really have any one to call anyway anymore. There's not much call for an 85 year old Butler in today's fast paced modern world. His life had been stripped of meaning. But he'd keep it anyway, in the hope that someday Batman might change his mind and drop him a call.
The battery drain on high power smartphones does serve to highlight something important though. Just how dependant we have become on our smartphones in such a relatively short space of time. 20 years ago, I felt naked and lost leaving the house without my watch on. Now I get that feeling if I leave my spare battery for my smartphone at home, let alone the phone itself. As phones carry the time, I haven't even owned a watch for well over a decade. And when that battery power does finally go, I feel lost again, like I can't function fully until I've found a charger and charged it up again. I don't even use it for phone calls much. I'd quite happily go long periods without speaking to anyone on the phone. This is not a problem. I'm not a phone call person. Never have been. It's not having all the other stuff they do accessible at all times, that I feel I might need at any moment, but usually don't, that makes me feel this way. I mostly use my smartphone throughout the day to read stuff, either news or books, or write stuff, like this article for instance, on the go. That and listening to music, playing the odd game, looking stuff up on You Tube, using it as a wireless hotspot for my laptop, or as a timer for cooking and exercise. They really are amazing versatile little devices.
But after 10 years of it, I've recently happily ditched social media. It's now just there for an email service so people can get hold of me if they want to (they never do) and a tool for creating online promotional pages to help draw attention to my various special interests. Call me crazy, but I'm just not interested in peoples dinner, sweets, baby photos or selfies anymore. And I've come to realise that anything other than a kitsch comment about Prosecco or wine just doesn't get read by anyone anymore, let alone liked. Personally, I still believe that content is king online. I've found it far more productive, creative, organised, and fun writing down and structuring my thoughts that I otherwise might have wasted and frittered away on Facebook, for this website instead.
And what did my superhero friends think of this idea? Well, Spiderman and Batman were too busy, as always, trying to out cool each other on Facebook to even notice what I was up to. And Superman, well, Superman doesn't even have a smartphone or use Social Media. He says he's always was way too busy out saving the planet. That and that people like Batman could trace his every move and activity if he had a smartphone. He needed his privacy. He was at some feminist rally in Metropolis making sure everything ran without incident last I heard.
But Albert, he was really supportive and enthusiastic about the idea. Got really excited and even asked if he could help write some stuff for it. He said that he had a whole load of great stories from his Butlering days that he was dying to tell. It would also serve to take his mind away from the intense loneliness he felt since being made redundant, and finally give him back that all important sense of purpose making him feel a part of this world once again. I felt guilty but I had to cut him short. Sorry Albert I told him, this was my idea and it had to be a website just about my thoughts. I told him I was really sorry about what had happened to him and said that he should start his own website with his own ideas and stories and that it would be great! He said he didn't know how and slowly turned and walked away, staring blankly at the ground as he went.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, there's no two ways around it, smartphones have changed the world. They have changed society, and they have changed us. They've changed the world in a way that no one saw coming. And while some of the change is good, some of it is ... well not so good depending on your point of view I suppose. In many ways they can enrich our day to day lives, and in many ways they can enslave us in our day to day lives. How you choose to use them seems to be what decides what side of the line you fall on.
To label smartphones as just a screen is as lazy as labeling all screen time as the same thing. What matters is how your brain is engaging with that screen in it's screen time. And it can engage with a smartphone screen in so many varied and different ways as opposed to say watching a tv or playing a games console. You can do virtually everything you can do on a computer on a smartphone. Write, read, browse the internet, draw, watch videos, listen to music, take and edit photos and videos, play games, and on top of that you can make phone calls as well. You can even control external machinery with them too. So they can be an incredible tool to assist your creativity, efficiency, and even fun. And the best thing is, you no longer have a location limitation to all this as you can take them where ever you go. The possibilities are endless. The problem is what you choose to do with your smartphone, not what it can do.
To me, smartphones are incredible little devices. The only negative stems from the behaviours that Social Networks inspire in so many people, not the devices themselves. These are what give rise to idiots nearly getting themselves killed taking selfies by train lines, or whilst crossing the road, or riding a motorbike, or whilst sticking their heads out of fast moving trains. Or the worst, sickest incident I have read yet, where a beach of selfie takers took turns to pose gleefully next to a washed up baby dolphin, whilst it suffocated to death as they uploaded their photos by the hundreds. They didn't intend to harm it, it's just they were so busy trying to get a photo for Facebook, that not a single person thought to put the poor innocent creature back in the water so it could live. That is truly horrible. People were actually putting the virtual world before the real world, at the cost of an innocent life. What has the human race become? It's Social Networks that give rise to those irritating people that spend ages, constantly going out of their way to alter their reality or fabricate a new one, just to make a photo to look better on Facebook. It's Social Networks that have people staring at their screens like zombies all day long, just moronically flicking up and down their profile and news feeds to see if anyone has liked their last post yet and constantly checking how their virtual self is looking to others. This is all very bizarre vain behaviour when you step back and look at it.
My god that was crabby. And I'm not even 40 yet. But there it is, that's the world we live in now. I love new technology, but am not keen on this new form of compulsive behaviour it has created in the human race. Perhaps this relatively new moronic obsessive behaviour will peter out over time, who knows.
Although the first iPhone started the smartphone ball rolling 10 years ago in 2007, they, along with Social Media and apps, have been evolving ever since. So the world is still getting used to the pros and cons of smartphones and Social Networks and how they have changed, and will continue to change, the world we live in. But whether you like or dislike the way they have altered human behaviour as we once knew it, the fact is, they are here to stay. What this really means for us, is choices. Even my superhero friends all seem to have settled down into different camps as to how they use and view their new technology.
Spiderman is finally happy. He has sorted his battery issues. He's discovered that 6 battery replacement cells, that are lightweight and easy to slip under his spandex and reposition, along with a bit of bra tape, give him the look of a perfect 6 pack AND ensure his smartphone is never without juice! He's even considering getting a couple of tablets too to slip under there to give him perfect pecks as well! Not only is he looking great catching criminals in selfies these days, he's made thousands of new best 'friends' he's never met and has no time for. He's really mastered capturing his best angle, and tries to catch bad guys only when the sun is out and low on the horizon as it creates a more atmospheric lighting effect that requires less editing work later on. Being a photographer in his alter ego gave him a massive edge over Batman here. He reckons Batman is no longer posting selfies of himself on Facebook because he just can't keep up anymore. This thought pleases him. He keeps checking it regularly throughout the day though, just to make sure ...
Superman remains one of the only people on planet Earth never to have owned a smartphone. And he maintains that he has no desire to ever own one either. Apart from him being vastly superior to all of us, and just generally better than us in every way, I had to ask him why. He told me with a wink that half of planet Earth's population were female. And that if my eyes ever had the kind of precision control over zooming in and out and x-ray vision that his had, I wouldn't bother with a smartphone either ...
Batman downsized the Bat Cave as planned. Being able to control everything in the Bat Cave via his smartphone, he was able to create a new minimalist style cave. I say cave, it looks more like a sparse IKEA living room now. So easy to keep tidy and clean. He's loving it. He's loving the new open, modern, clean, spacious, minimalist vibe. Almost takes his mind off his parents being brutally murdered by The Joker when he was a kid. But not quite. And he realised that, as ever, Albert was right. He had become too obsessed with how he looked online. He was trying so hard to be liked in the virtual world, it was warping his real world. This whole setting up scenes just to take a selfie and post it on Facebook thing just had to stop. He'd even given up the Prosecco and the whole "wine o'clock" thing. Largely because he had realised how cringe worthy it was after reading Spiderman's relentless posts about the same thing. Social Network's were no longer for him. It was time to go back off the radar. Back underground. The way Batman was supposed to be. Perhaps, he thought, it was time to offer Albert his old job back. He may have smelt of old socks, but Batman realised in his absence, that he had actually found that comforting. Much more comforting than the thousands of so called 'friends' he had on Facebook. He had missed the old fool. But for some reason, Albert was not returning his calls ...
No one could get hold of Albert. Superman was the last known person to have seen him a few days earlier. He was flying back to Metropolis one night, after volunteering to watch over a corruption protest at Gotham All Girls High School. He had seen Albert looking over the edge of Gotham Bridge. Pensive, still, and all alone, Albert was glaring lifelessly at his reflection in the dark chilled water deep below. Superman had said that he would have stopped off to see how he was, only he thought it best for the safety of Gotham City, if he went straight home to scan over the girls from the protest in much greater detail whilst they were still young, fresh, and nubile in his photographic mind. You know, check they weren't criminals and stuff. At home. On his own. On the sofa. In the dark. With the lights off. With a few cans of lager. It's an alien thing apparently - helps him visualize better or something ...
It was Commissioner Gordon that found Albert's Nokia 3310 several days later washed up on the shore of Gotham Lake. To his amazement the battery still had 65% remaining on it.
It also had 6 missed calls from Bruce Wayne, and as he held it in his hand, the Commissioner noticed a slight roughness to its back. Turning the phone over, he could see that the shapes gouged deep into the back cover of the phone, etched out a chilling couple of words ... "DIE BRUCE". This was one thing that Batman had not planned for. Albert, the Butler, who knew all of Batman's real secrets, not the rubbish he wanted people to see on Facebook, was never to be seen again. Or at least not as the Butler at any rate ...
For all his years in the Force, and all the strange things he had seen happen in that time, the thing that had always puzzled Commissioner Gordon the most about Gotham City was ... Apart from Bruce's parents, why did no one ever die? Why did they always have to come back as a crazy bad guy?
Suddenly, my superhero friends and I all realised what we had done. We were no better than the dolphin selfie morons on the beach. We too had actually put the virtual world before the real world, at the cost of an innocent life. Our old friend Albert ...
After Bruce Wayne had received the call, he put the Bat Phone down slowly, checked the time and weather very quickly on his smartphone, and began to slowly step inside the Bat Suit. The Bat Suit his old friend Alfred had helped him to make. He zipped up the zips, and strapped up the straps, then flexed for a moment. All in preparation for what he suspected could be his final outing against a new highly intelligent foe of his own creation. But then that was no different to any other day for The Batman. Especially now Wednesday's were back on after dropping 'Wine Wednesday'.
Batman was about to embark on a never ending battle that his heart couldn't afford him to win, and that Gotham City couldn't afford him to lose. It would prove to be his toughest, most deeply personal, most emotional and nasty never ending fight yet, since starting debating the existence of God on Facebook with a Texan Christian named Jeb ...
But, just as he was about to leave the Bat Cave, and step out into the fray of darkness that awaited him, Batman felt that sudden urge that he thought he'd put behind him. He felt the urge for one last quick selfie. A selfie to let Gotham know, that the old Batman was back.
With outfit so effortlessly pensive and cool, and with chin so majestically broody and handsome, and comment so succinct that it meant everything and nothing at the same time, Batman had once again awoken the citizens of Gotham, his new 'friends', to unite against the rise of a new traditional super villain ... and himself, to the presence of a not so traditional one hiding in broad daylight.
Suggestions in the ear. Choice words let slip in conversation. The darkness you could just about make out behind that squeeky clean, holier than though persona. The choice of venues to watch over ... Batman had suspected for some time, that old Superman was no longer the selfless servant to humanity that he once knew he was. He was just way too busy on Facebook to bother to do anything about it before. But now he realised that there was only one man to keep him in check. He had a job to do.
And, as he tapped the send button, on what he had already decided was to be his final ever post on Social Media, he had let the world know, with effortless style, panache, and humility rolled into one, that The Batman was back in business. His 'friends' felt inspired. His eneimies ... felt fear.
Spiderman was beside himself with jealousy ...