RICHARD ORD: Of smartphones and bowel movements

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PLANES, you’ve probably noticed, are flying terribly low these days.

I know this because my wife keeps pointing them out to me. The surprise is, she’s pointing down, not up.

She’s paid for a phone app that tracks the flight paths of international planes across the world.

“Ooh, 10,000ft,” she’ll say pointing at her phone, “that’s way too low. He’s going to have to pull up. That’s better. He’s up.”

Like I don’t have enough to worry about.

You can get an app for just about anything these days.

As I’ve mentioned before, I particularly enjoy seeing people post how far they’ve run that day on their Facebook timeline. Fascinating stuff.

Forget your thought-provoking photos of food about to be eaten or the absorbing selfies with pets, what I really need to know is how far you’ve run that morning.

Saves you asking them in person doesn’t it? It’s my usual conversation opener.

“Hi there, exactly how far have you run today and what time did you do it in? Could you give me that time in minutes and seconds please? If it’s not too personal a question, can you tell me what the average time per mile your last run was? Oh, and how’s your mum?”

It’s as interesting, and relevant, as posting details of your bowel movements. Imagine that information dropping on your Facebook timeline.

“Today I evacuated 1.2kg of faecal matter in 7 minutes, 38 seconds.”

Ha, ha... well, actually you can.

The Bowel Mover app aids the smooth running of your back passage with a helpful daily movement chart.

It says you can capture your latest “poogress” (a play on progress, geddit?) and share it with your friends. At $2.99 it’s nothing to be sniffed at.

Unlike the flight tracking phone app.

What possible good can come of arming people like my wife with the live streaming of aircraft flight information? The answer came this week.

Our 13-year-old was embarking on a school trip to Spain so we dutifully dropped him off at the airport and then hung about in a field a mile away to watch his flight head off to Malaga.

It was a glorious, clear morning as the plane took off, rose up over our heads and away into the clouds. Except it was flying too low … and in the wrong direction!

Forget terror at 20,000ft, this was terror at 5ft and four inches. The distance from ground to my wife’s face staring in terror at her iPhone screen.

“He’s too low,” she wailed.

At this point it’s important to point out that my wife has a fear of flying. She’s exactly the sort of person who should be gently steered away from flight monitoring apps. Gently steered away with a cattle prod.

Her fear of flying is, thanks to this app, now compounded by an equally disturbing and unnecessary fear of planes crashing onto her head.

“It’s only 2,000ft,” she wailed. “Something’s wrong.”

I’m no aeronautical expert, but the fact that it was in the air was good enough for me.

Had the flight tracker been indicating zero feet and the plane symbol flipped to a flashing ambulance, I might have had cause to worry. Not my wife.

No sooner had the plane started rising than she then started wailing about the direction of flight. “It’s heading for Scotland. Why’s it heading for Scotland? What’s happening?”

Before I knew it, she had me dialling the airport for an update on the horror that was clearly unfolding. Clearly unfolding in my wife’s mind.

It was odd, I thought, that a flight to Malaga should be heading over Scotland and banking right out into the North Sea.

Turned out my wife was tracking the wrong flight.

What good can come of arming people like my wife with the live streaming of aircraft flight information? The answer is absolutely no good whatsoever.

Although, given how panicked she got, it did, by chance, serve as a perfect bowel loosening application .