I don’t need religion for answers. I have Google on my phone

In 2021, the number of mobile devices operating worldwide stood at almost 15 billion, up from just over 14 billion in the previous year. In total, the number of people that own a smart and feature phone is 7.26 billion, making up 92% of the world’s population.

Impressive. Especially when you consider that 92% of the world’s population has access to the accumulated knowledge of everyone, with free access to educational resources, libraries, videos, etc. A new, golden dawn awaits!

How much time do we spend on our phones? In 2010, we spent 24 min. In 2021, 4 hours and 23 min, an 800% increase. Makes sense, especially as you consider the increase in video content and social media platforms.

But how do we spend our time? The website traffic rankings are largely predictable, dominated by the world’s search, ecommerce and social media giants. However, there are a few notable (and even taboo). Adult websites Xvideos and Pornhub (Cypriot, based in Limassol) are among the most trafficked in the United States, receiving an average of 693.5 million and 639.6 million monthly visitors respectively. The two pornography giants outrank a number of major services, including Netflix (541 million), Zoom (629.5 million) and Twitch (255.3 million).

We have built a huge pool of knowledge and given easy access to it to 92% of the population, with the main uses being porn, gossip, movies, and gaming. Less of a golden dawn and more an online “Miami Vice” type of experience.

In the cacophony of online news and misinformation, news tends to be quick, loud, and populist. For example, a recent article was titled “NPL investors are demanding six times what they paid for non-performing loans”. What a great title! Of course, the fact that the amount owed by these individuals and companies is indeed six times more than what was paid was totally omitted, as was the case that most are now circa 10 years overdue. Similarly, the various messages coming out from Parliament are that they are trying to figure out how to protect borrowers from loosing their home but there is little about how to penalise those who are strategic defaulters.

This “scream and shout” (or smoke and mirrors) tactic works well when you want to avoid harder, more complex topics. For example: (i) how do we set the foundations for being held accountable for our actions or lack thereof (e.g. illegal constructions, lack of adhering to contracts, etc). The typical response when there is a disagreement is “we either settle on my terms, or we will go to court and in ten years we see what happens”. (ii) how will we retrain and educate Cypriots to be in a position to work in the various companies that everyone is trying to attract to Cyprus (in particular to Limassol). The cost of living is rising for everyone, but few are benefiting from the income generated by these companies. (iii) what will Cyprus’ “unique selling point” be when corporate taxation becomes a universal, global minimum of 15%. (iv) how do we plan for the future, when we have no one who remembers how living in a unified island was. Boring? Tricky? Maybe. Necessary? Definitely.

During a recent discussion about religious tension in Egypt, an Egyptian friend stated that neither he nor his family concern themselves with this type of matters as they have happily lived amongst other religions for hundreds of years. He added, “I don’t need religion for answers. I have Google on my phone.”  Of course, as the saying goes, “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”