BSP - Before Smartphones

The year is 1999 and I'm a physics student living in Germany. My German was very basic, as everyone at the lab spoke English and I could generally get by. I didn't have a mobile phone - far too expensive for me back then. It now scares me slightly that I actually went to live in another country without that safety net, but it seemed fine at the time.

One day I was on the bus coming back from a day in town. Somehow I missed my stop. Oh dear. But instead of asking the driver to stop and let me off as soon as I realised, I just stayed on the bus, figuring that it would cycle around and go back into town. But it didn't. At the end of the bus route I was asked to get off the bus. I left the bus and realised I didn't have a clue where I was. Oh dear.

It was now dark and starting to rain. I started walking, retracing the route the bus took. I then headed to the main road as this seemed simpler than trying to navigate through the houses of the suburbs. Once on the main road I got a little disoriented. Which way was it again? Luckily the stars were out and Orion was in the sky, which I remember seeing from where I was staying. I had a known direction and could then workout which way to go along the main road. Problem solved. Eventually.

If I had a smartphone

OK. Let's rerun this story, but this time I have a smartphone with a connection to the Internet. I'm on the bus and I miss my stop (though I'm sure there's an app out there that would have alerted me and avoided this whole problem). I could have brought Google Maps up and seen where the next bus stop was, got off there and navigated back to where I was staying. I could have used Google Translate to ask the bus driver whether he was going back into town after visiting the suburbs. The answer would have been no, making it even more urgent that I get off the bus as soon as possible.

A smartphone brings you a lot more information into your life and the situations you get yourself in to. With information, you can solve problems. That's the killer feature of smartphones.

Photo by Linda Xu / Unsplash