Craig Henderson: How I'm losing the war with machines

For years I worried about the impact mobile phones could be having on my wellbeing.

Way back in the day, before smart phones were even invented, I'd freak every time my old Nokia clam phone heated up like a toaster as I pressed it to my head.

Resistance is futile: A brainwashed Craig Henderson fears he has sold his soul to the smart phone juggernaut.

Resistance is futile: A brainwashed Craig Henderson fears he has sold his soul to the smart phone juggernaut.

But phone companies have assured us that people like brain surgeon Charlie Teo are wrong; that there is no link between hot, pulsating mobile phones being rubbed against the ear and tumours growing in people’s skulls.

I also became less concerned about risks of radio- frequency radiation once the smart-phone revolution swept the planet, thanks to the hands-free or "loudspeaker" setting. Phew!

Even though smart phones are supposedly safe, some models still seem intent on harming humans - like the spontaneously combusting Samsung Galaxy Note 7.

If I'm honest though, I'm not at all concerned about being burnt, maimed or poisoned by mobile phones.

After all, I've been using them for 20 years and I'm still kicking.

Instead, I find myself worried about the other insidious ways they are ruining the person I've evolved into over 48 years.

There are obvious ways my behaviour has changed, like:

* I now ignore my wife and children for hours on end if I'm in the midst of a solid Facebook session or a tight tussle on Words With Friends.

*  I now ignore my wife and children for hours on end if I'm in the midst of a solid Googling session or a tight tussle on Angry Birds.

But there are also smaller, incremental changes that are starting to add up to a completely different Hendo.

Hendo 2.0 (with OS 10) if you like.

*  I'm no longer the free-wheeling, slightly unreliable rogue of years past.

I admit I used to be prone to going off the grid for a few days here and there, and maybe ignoring attempts by friends, family and colleagues to get in touch.

Not now. With multiple connection platforms - from voicemail to texts, emails, Whatsapp, Skype etc - I am constantly being tracked.

"Call me!" "Where are you?" and "Are you really sick?" are questions that can no longer be ignored and later explained away with ye olde faithful: "I never got your message!"

No one believes it anymore; not least, Hendo 2.0.

*  I'm becoming paranoid about World War M.

Earlier this month it struck me that my phone is far more organised and efficient than I.

When I was asleep at 2am on October 2, it woke itself to change its clock to daylight saving time. Meanwhile dopey old Hendo the schmuck human had to get up and manually change all the clocks in the house.

It was not only a reminder that a war with machines is inevitable, but a foretaste of which side will win.

As the machines' A.I. capabilities continue to grow, my brain continues to shrink -- I still  haven't changed the clock in the car.

*  I'm becoming a bleating sheep, incapable of resisting group behaviour.

At a recent gig I noticed 400 people holding up their mobile phones as You Am I ripped through "Cathy's Clown".

"Have a go at these idiots!" I shouted to my friends over the noise, only to see them holding up their phones, too.

Then I remembered my brother who lives in Kuala Lumpur who'd have loved to have been there so I decided to film the next song for him. Baa-aa ... 401 sheep.

*  I'm no longer free to spin exotic yarns to my mates.

I'm a firm believer that facts should never get in the way of a good story (except in my day job of course).

But thanks to the smart phone, there's always someone on hand to fact-check my tall tales and call bull-twang.

Hell, I even do it! I had mates stand at the bar recently and regale me with stories about getting barrelled in 4-6ft surf at their local earlier in the week. "Oh really, boys?"

I countered, pulling up BoM wave-modelling data on my mobile to prove it was in fact 2ft.

I followed this up with images of little kids on blow-up pool toys riding tiny waves at their local beach posted on Instagram on the day of the alleged barrel-fest. "Which one of these kids was you?"

*  I'm developing pet-loving tendencies very much against my will.

I've never been one for needy dogs and cats but it turns out I'm a very attentive iPhone owner.

Any time my device beeps, whistles or buzzes it gets my instant and undivided attention: "Aww, whatchoo sayin' little fella?"

And I never forget to feed it (electricity) or take it walking (everywhere I go).

*  I'm now expected to give a toss about 212 birthdays every year, cos' that's how many Facebook "friends" I have.

While this hip-hip-hooray-a-thon is annoying for folk like me (i.e. Cancerians who like to mind their own business), it's also a blow to people like my brother.

Says he: "I used to be able to impress my friends with my special ability to remember their birthdays. But now when I send them some cheer on their special day, they naturally assume I received an alert from a smart phone."

*  My internal compass is going haywire.

I used to pride myself on my laser-accurate sense of direction. But since the advent of GPS-guided interactive smart phone maps I've become overly reliant on the little blue dot and voice-prompt telling me which way to go. 

*  Did I mention my fear of World War M?

I'm convinced that automated female GPS voice prompt will be the last sound I hear after I'm captured and thrown into the machines' extermination facility. "Craig Henderson 2.0  4613F, you have arrived at your final destination. Prepare for termination."

*  I have been completely brainwashed.

Having said all the above, I recently had a friend tell me how she and her husband refused to get smart phones. "They wreck peoples' lives!" she explained.

"Are you mad?" I responded incredulously. "Do you have any idea of what you're missing out on?"