By Aaron Jossie
Recently I gave a short presentation to a group of about 25 guys between the ages of 18 and 40 or so. As part of an object lesson related to my presentation, I asked if anyone in the room had a pocketknife or a flashlight on them. I wasn’t really surprised to find out that I was the only one in the room with a flashlight (Maratac AAA), but I was stunned that not one person in the room, other than myself, had a pocketknife on them. Why didn’t anyone else have a pocketknife?…
Because in the 21st Century, the smartphone has killed the pocketknife. Only a few of us, relatively speaking, have insisted on combining the two tools despite limited pocket space and despite the probable overwhelming bias toward using the smartphone during the day.
Up front, I’m not saying smartphones are bad. They are much more of a daily urban “tool” than a knife will ever be, especially if your surroundings are paved with concrete, so to speak. Which is exactly my point. For the majority of people out there, getting by from day to day in an urban setting necessitates reaching for the phone more than the knife. Think of it this way, when was the last time you needed a knife to open an email? If you’ve got some spare time, do you pull that little half-finished wooden duck out of one pocket and a Case Stockman out of the other and whittle away a few minutes? I didn’t think so.
As so many of us are entrenched in the urban landscape in order to keep our lights on and food on the table, the number of tasks we complete each day are not exactly filled with the need to cut stuff, and therefore, for lots of people, a knife just doesn’t find its way into a pocket (much less a flashlight).
On the other hand, a smartphone cannot do what a knife does. They are completely different tools that serve completely different purposes. So in a way, it really comes down to understanding your typical daily tasks and preparing accordingly. For those of us who carry pocketknives, the reasons are many and don’t really matter here. If you kept a list (either on your smartphone or on actual paper, with those things that have ink or graphite in them) of all the times you removed your smartphone from your pocket versus all the times you remove your pocketknife from your pocket, the tally would most likely favor the smartphone. Again, for us who carry a knife daily no matter what, this tally wouldn’t matter, but for others, if the need isn’t commensurate with the amount of use, then there’s no need to carry it.
Lastly, in my opinion, the biggest offenders are the media and public schools. Kids these days are growing up in an era where everywhere they turn around, anything that can be considered a weapon is a bad thing. No knives in schools, no knives on planes, no knives anywhere if you’re a minor. The media hates them. Schools hate them. But smartphones are okay. The younger generation is growing up without pocketknives and if they’ve never learned the value of them, they don’t miss them when they can carry them. But take away the smartphone and there might be riots in the streets.
Will people continue to become interested in knives and will more people carry and use knives than before? Maybe. But for many, the smartphone has taken over the pocket space and there is no turning back. For them I feel bad, but if they ever need to cut something, I’ll gladly lend them a blade and encourage them to take a dip in this water that us “knife guys (or gals)” surround ourselves with.