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Mobile technology – friend or foe?

20 June 2017

The article at a glance

Arman Moussavi, a current MBA student at Cambridge Judge Business School, gave a TEDx Oxbridge talk on 21 May about mobile technology …

Arman Moussavi, a current MBA student at Cambridge Judge Business School, gave a TEDx Oxbridge talk on 21 May about mobile technology – cautioning listeners not to be too shackled to their convenient little computers.

man hands trapped and wrapped on wrists with mobile phone cable as handcuffs in smart phone networking and communication technology addiction concept

Arman Moussavi, Cambridge MBA 2016/17
Arman Moussavi (MBA 2016)

Arman studied electrical engineering at the University of Maryland, and was working as technology consultant and supply chain systems consultant before beginning his Cambridge MBA in 2016.

So here are Arman’s thoughts, adapted from his TEDx Oxbridge talk, on why people are so addicted to their mobile devices – along with a couple of ways to (at least partly) break that habit.

While humankind has always embraced the familiar, mobile devices take this to a new level.

Now, on a day-to-day basis, whether sitting next to someone on a plane or ordering a coffee at Starbucks, we always have the choice to either engage with the world around us or the world in our phones – and more and more we are choosing the latter option, the default and easy option.

With smart phones we feel this need to constantly have to “do something” – answer emails, text messages, Facebook comments.

The irony is, though, that in our quest to “live” a life connected to the rest of the world, we ignore the essential, the beauty of our existence in the present. And as a result, we pull ourselves apart slowly but surely from the rest of humanity.

Dostoevsky wrote about a character who shared his suffering through groaning. Smart phones allow people to groan as much as they like.

Wherever you are, whether waiting in a long queue at a supermarket, or whether you missed your plane at the airport and have to wait another six hours with nothing to do, you can always express yourself and make others feel your suffering or pleasure.

Switch off from online messaging and send hand-written letters every once in a while.

Social media feeds the tendency to answer quickly, to express without much reflection, but writing a letter gives you a better chance of concentrating on what you want to say and reflect on what you’re doing. I used to exchange hand-written letters with my then girlfriend. There is absolutely no amount of texts or Facebook messages that would have made me understand her the way I do and did through those letters. And these letters are permanent – they sit in my drawer to this day – while my texts are drowned in an endless slew of other content.

Reflect in silence.

It helps to relax and have a little break from technology. These pockets of silence when you do nothing and just enjoy being here in this moment with others might be enough for developing a better connection of self and the world. On a macro level, movements to achieve these pockets of silence and reflection away from the buzz of information are already starting in public spaces. For example, some cafes in Amsterdam are refusing to offer Wi-Fi, and in Norway a group of students designed a modern igloo – a space unplugged from the rest of the home.

This article was published on

20 June 2017.
Lean more about the Cambridge MBA During the Global Consulting Project Arman undertook as part of his Cambridge MBA, he wrote a blog post on a discussion he had on machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Cambridge MBA mobile devices technology TEDxOxbridge