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Sinead Moriarty: Androids killing off our beloved bluffers, sneaky spoofers and pub pontificators

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The instant gratification of tablet knowledge is a great thing but it does have its drawbacks too

The instant gratification of tablet knowledge is a great thing but it does have its drawbacks too

The instant gratification of tablet knowledge is a great thing but it does have its drawbacks too

WHATEVER happened to the art of lively debate? Answer – the internet killed it. When was the last time you had a spirited discussion about some point or other until someone ruined it by deciding to 'check out the facts' on their phone.

These killjoys bury their nose in their phone and then proceed to spout facts and figures found on the internet (usually Wikipedia) and the conversation is over. The lively banter crushed by specifics.

While accessibility to instant information is wonderful, it also has a downside. Can anyone trust the winners of pub quizzes anymore? Aren't we all wondering if the winning team were checking their answers on their phones? While we were debating and discussing, were they surreptitiously surfing the internet under the table or in the bathroom?

It seems that the internet is not only killing the art of conversation, it's also turning us into cheats. Nowhere is safe, nothing is sacred, not even the game of chess.

Only two days ago the gardai were called to a chess match at the Cork Chess Congress after a 16-year-old boy was accused of cheating. According to his opponent, Garbiel Mirza (47), the boy went to the toilet "at least 20 times during the game".

Subtlety clearly isn't this kid's strong point. That's the problem with chess, every move requires a counter move . . . thus the 'weak' bladder. Apparently the teenager was caught using an android device to check his next move.

Mr Mirza, having shown great patience, finally lost his cool on the twentieth bathroom break. He followed the boy into the men's room, where he claims he caught him cheating.

Mr Mirza then dragged the teenager out of the cubicle where a row broke out.

Of the incident, Mr Mirza says: "I made a citizen's arrest as I had witnessed him committing a crime of dishonesty."

Mr Mirza was furious at being prevented form winning the tournament and wants justice from the Irish Chess Union.

You have to wonder why the boy took up chess in the first place, if he can't manage to play without running to his phone (or whatever android device he was using) every ten seconds. What's the point?

Chess has always been the game of kings. Being good at chess means you're smart. Only clever people can play well. No dummies to be found in a chess club. And yet . . .

If you have to disappear to look up instructions before every move, can you really be that smart? Wouldn't that defeat the whole purpose of the game?

Maybe the teenager thought he didn't need to learn how to play well. If, after all, his phone could tell him what to do, why bother?

In fact, one wonders why we bother trying to retain information anymore at all.

I'm no one to point the finger. I used to be able to recite at least 20 phone numbers. Now I can barely remember my own. Why, because I don't bother memorising them. I don't need to. They're all in my phone. I've got lazy and apparently so have a lot of other people.

In our everyday life now, we don't need to remember phone numbers, directions, dates, or even how to write. Our android devices do it all for us. The worrying thing is that the next generation may well ask why they should bother learning anything at all. The information is there, at the click of a button, so why would they spend hours trying to retain it?

What next?

If we can't trust our opponents, will we all end up playing solitaire on our android devices?

Will those same android devices become our opponents, friends and companions?

Here's hoping not, wouldn't you miss the table thumping and finger wagging as we debate how many times Sweden won the Eurovision (five according to Wikipedia!).

Irish Independent