Fifty years ago the people waiting on this bench might have been smoking — now they’re all fiddling with their phones.
It’s long been thought that mobile phones might be replacing cigarettes:
Teenagers may be getting healthier because mobile phones are replacing cigarettes as a symbol of rebellion and fashion.
Clive Bates, Ash director, suggested that the need to stay in fashion by owning a phone may mean less money is available to pay for cigarettes.
— BBC, November 2000
This Age article from 2005 suggested the same thing.
I’m pondering other links:
Phones, like cigarettes, give you something to do with your hands, something to fiddle with.
Phones, like cigarettes, are social. Instead of standing around in doorways chatting to fellow smokers, you’re talking to your friends via social media — wherever they are.
Phones, like cigarettes, can be invasive if used thoughtlessly in a group of people (though having to listen to someone’s boring conversation is less unhealthy and unpleasant than secondhand smoke).
I’d love to reach some profound conclusion here, but that’s all I’ve got. Thoughts?