Smartphones get a bad rap sometimes. Yes, they impinge on our waking lives in merciless torrent of messages, prompts and notifications, ebbing at our own mindfulness. They keep us agitated in a perennial state of distraction, drawing ire from employers, lovers and other motorists as well. Still, for all their social flaws, smartphones do have their advantages, and can even make us better people. Here’s five ways that smartphones make us more productive, more capable and at times, superhuman…even if we have to use some creative thinking to get them there.

Bionic Bodies and Superbrains

While backlit screens and mobile gaming can do a number on our eyes and movable digits, some mobile app makers are trying to reverse that trope. Digital fitness can’t be understated in today’s climate of smart-wearables, calorie counters and tracking apps, neither can the new breed of “brain trainers” a’la Lumosity (http://www.lumosity.com/) or Happify (http://www.happify.com), which build your brain and cognitive abilities through artful and intuitive games. Perhaps most astonishing of these body improvement apps is the UltimEyes app (http://www.rsvlts.com/2014/02/19/ultimeyes-an-app-to-improve-your-vision/) which literally aims to improve a user’s ability to see both far away and close-up. Practicing moderation in all things, smartphones can be a genuine source of personal improvement, so long as we’re still willing to put in the hard time elsewhere.

Smart Rolodexes and Photographic Memory

Our smartphones are more than mobile telephones. They’re rolodexes, phonebooks, and directories to the information of the world. If it sounds grandiose, just remember that the thing in your pocket has more computing power than the set-up NASA used to put a real deal actual human being on the moon. Back on Earth, our phones can sync our contacts and calendars for us, with many apps in the Evernote series taking that notion a step further. Evernote Hello (https://evernote.com/hello/) stores photos of people’s faces and records of where and when you first contacted them, and though the company has stopped rolling out updates for it, it showcases the cutting edge ways in which our contacts can be assembled. Other Evernote apps allow you to take and store text, audio, video or web clipped notes and access them from all your devices. Increased data storage means more information, but it’s our smartphones that make this information usable and ultimately, digestible. Plus, can you imagine trying to settle a debate without Wikipedia at your immediate disposal? Exactly.

Think and Grow Rich

Never have independent business owners had more at their disposal, thanks to the internet and those tangible devices that can access it. Niche artisans and fringe entrepreneurs can now wrangle the same markets as the big guys with the huge advertising budgets, targeting their demographic with online stores and SEO, Paypal capabilities and even smartphone hardware like Square (http://store.apple.com/us/product/HF562LL/B/square-credit-card-reader) which allows indie-biz superstars to take credit card payments, directly on their smartphone. If this seems like a small thing, think about all the damn bodegas in New York City that won’t accept a bank card. That’s right bunky. Your business is big time with your smartphone.

Teleportation

Though full on teleportation in the Star Trek sense of the world still isn’t a thing, our smartphones allow us the next best proxy. Through teleconferencing, video chatting and screen-sharing, we can be in the proverbial “two places at once”, eliminating the obstacles of time and distance in favor of collaboration and productivity. We can secure our homes, erase the contents of our hard drives and even hijack the programming on the communal Apple TV. Our smartphone make us impervious to walls, fences, time zones and national borders, allowing us to truly be anywhere at once…like god.

A New (Online) You

Our social media profiles enable us to keep on top of the boring minutia of our friend’s lives, like what they ordered at Cracker Barrell or what day is their birthday. The other thing about social media is that you can totally use it to cover up the gaping flaws in your REAL LIFE personality. Are you a slovenly curmudgeon in the real world? A vapid bottom feeder with no real opinions? A feckless narcissist? No worries, because on social media, you can be whoever you want to be and with your smartphone, you can keep everyone updated anywhere that life takes you. Cop a .JPG from Google Images, a life motto from brainyquote.com and one of the many social media platforms available to you, and you’re well on your way.

~ Dylan Chadwick

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