Tim Green: "Should kids be posting on walls or urinating on them?" | Mobile Industry | Mobile Entertainment

Tim Green: "Should kids be posting on walls or urinating on them?"

Tim Green:
Tim Green


Industry / January 24th 2013 at 2:00PM

Reports suggest smartphone addiction is reducing vandalism. I can't decide which is more anti-social.

A few days ago it snowed in England. I can hear the laughter of our Nordic readers when I say that this was a major news event in the UK.

Anyhow, my daughter came home from secondary school and told me a rather touching story.

As she looked out of the window shortly before home time, she noticed two lads walking in a deliberate and strange pattern on the snow-covered astroturf pitch. As time went on she became aware that the duo were carving out with their feet the outline of a giant cock and balls.

Best of all, as they left the field of play, each of their departing footsteps formed a gentle arc of ejaculating sperm.

My heart soared at this story. Why? Because I'd just read a post on the BBC web site, which postulated that youthful vandalism and defacement is on the decline – and it's all thanks to our cherished cannibaliser, the smartphone.

OK, not definitely because of mobile. Many reasons were examined for a 37 per cent fall in reported UK vandalism since 2007, but the distraction provided by BBM, iPhone gaming etc was right up there.

As the story put it: "Teenagers now send 200 texts or instant messages in a week - almost four times as many as five years earlier - and some of the time spent on the internet and texting will have replaced those dreary hours hanging around the bus stop.”

And so yet another area of daily life is subsumed by the phone.

Over the years, I've reported for ME on a succession of products and pastimes that have been unable to escape its black hole-like pull. At first, the reasons were straightforward: the wristwatch, the alarm clock, the torch, the SatNav, the cheap camera – your phone had a direct replacement for all of them, so out they went.

To use a hackneyed phrase, the mobile was like a swiss army knife housing loads of functions in one very cool shiny box.

Today, though, it's the phone's ability to distract as much as replace that's causing the changes. It has even been suggested that kids are smoking less because they'd rather spend time and money on credit.

And now it seems it's just easier and warmer to stay in with your Galaxy S III than go out and push bollards over.

Which youthful activities are next, for God's sake? Making farting noises with your underarms? Snapping bra-straps? Giving dead legs? Wanking?

Mmm, on reflection I think the powerful connectivity and screen resolution of the new touchscreens could take self-abuse into a bright new era with the ability to address new demographics.

Let's call them the 'unwanked' (and I expect the handset makers at MWC to reference this in their press releases).

Still, it's all very confusing for parents and other supposed authority figures. On the one hand, we're telling kids to 'stop texting for once in your life, get some exercise, talk to a human' and on the other we're noticing that the bus stops don't smell of piss any more.

It's possible that in time we'll start to get nostalgic about the good old days of vandalism and graffiti, just as we have about white dog turds (all to do with bulking agents in food apparently) and flashers (those craaazy guys).

Mind you, as many of us know to our collective regret, misbehaviour hasn't gone away. It's just that the old transgressions are being replaced by new mobile-friendly crimes. Trolling, for example – so much easier than standing outside some actress's house all day. You don't even need a hat.

But maybe there's a third way. 

If you long for the ultimate unpleasant act that combines the connectedness of the smartphone with a good old-fashioned physical workout, I give you 'happy slapping'.

This horrible crime is the perfect combo of new and old. And because of the wider decline in more traditional vandalism, you can set about your innocent victim in a pristine, well-lit bus shelter with no defacement whatsoever.

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