Are smart phones making us dumb? Is entertainment technology a bigger threat than bioterror by making the world a smaller place? The answer will surprise you, unless you're already wearing your untrendy tinfoil hat.
Let's get this cleared up from the get-go. I do not have an iPhone. Nope, sure don't. Will I probably get one, maybe…but I'm currently very content with my Blackberry. The thought of someone taking away my keyboard from me is frightening. Plus, for the same reasons I wasn't going to be a stellar pianist is the same reason I don't know how I feel about a touch screen keypad – fat, stodgy fingers.
So, what the hell makes the iPhone so damn clever? I hear it's the apps. Recently Apple celebrated the plethora of apps it has to offer (at least 20,000 I think by last count) and what with being able to have a level handy (which, seriously – is handy) to detecting whether a person is a Cyclon or not, the apps run the gamut of practicality to practically worthless.
I asked some friends that have iPhones what they like the most about it. And for the most part, they were in agreement that it merely makes life, well…easier. Note: I asked people across all levels of tech savvy and ‘connectedness,' meaning those who Twitter, think the new FB rules were bogus and got them repealed and will probably pee their pants with glee when the new iPhone upgrade is released this summer.
The new upgrade apparently fixes the issue with trying to send pictures via multimedia messaging, landscape capabilities for some of the apps and what you think would be simple: copy and paste.
For the people I know who own this magical possession, it turns out that they definitely use it more for play than work and that honestly, the apps are what make it worth it. But that makes sense – most phones now offer you the capability to browse the internet (However – flash websites still have most phones, including Apple's, a little perplexed in how to view them). So with that, other carriers are kind of left in the dust.
Recently, I was notified of a Blackberry update and it now has an apps store and there are a few that I got that are pretty good – so is everyone heading this way? Probably not.
What I also love is that Apple isn't merely satisfied with the power of the iPhone. I read an article last week that said Steve Jobs, while on his medical leave, is working on his new project: a hybrid between the MacBook and the iPhone. That's taking us into portable tablet pc/communications territory. The age of Star Trek is upon us.
Don't get me wrong – the iPhone is pretty slick. Where it does succeed is in user ease. To be able to sync your calendar, your friends, stay connected to your networks, check the weather, use a level (I know – I really needed one this week!), or play games while you wait in the doctor's office…that's pretty great.
But where others love the total inundation of information and entertainment, I fear becoming too caught up in the electronic world we're living in. It makes me, even at 26, feel old and that I want to live in a world full of relics, like phones that came in travel cases and had to be plugged in to the cigarette lighter. I had Twitter on my Blackberry but decided to delete my account. It made me apoplectic. Deleted the Myspace account I had and quite nearly wiped out the Facebook page until I basically realized that it's become the modern-day white pages.
While I don't want to be aware of everything all of my friends are doing all the time, just as I don't want them to know what I'm doing all the time, to be totally reclusive in an age that relies on ease of being reached, I scaled it back.
On the other hand, some people are totally attached at the hip. My designer at work is always on it so even when I go down to try to talk to her about something important, she's on it. When I go into meetings with her, she's sitting in a chair in a room by herself on it. She showed a coworker a game that she loved and went into such detail about how to play it and how it worked that I wanted to take it out of her hands and throw it against the wall. It's become just another extension of her body.
And with so many apps, it's like you'd never need to have any interaction with people ever again. The art of conversation is slowly fading away with technology almost becoming a broker between two people. Is our fear of rejection growing to the point that we can't even face another person? Are we honestly incapable of turning off the phones for even an hour? I see people at restaurants who are either on a date or having a meal together, you know, with conversation, who are both texting on their phones. Ridiculous.
No, iPhone, I don't blame you for our behavior but I'm not sure if we were always like this before you came. And while we all feel safer behind our phones/computers/electronics, isn't it only making our condition worse? Sure there's a ton of good that this technology can give us (i.e., a level when we don't have one) and it does make our fast-paced complicated lives much more manageable and convenient. To be able to stay in touch with people from across the globe and do all you need to do in a moment's notice is powerful. I applaud Apple for being part of the technological revolution that we're immersing ourselves in.
But me, nah. I want to sit out this inning. I made a joke about girls being able to urinate on their iPhone to see if they were pregnant or not – but I'm sure someone will make an app for that. And I thought I heard something about being able to actually take your blood sugar levels on your phone if you happened to be diabetic. It's crazy. Anything you can think of, there's probably an app for that. At least that's the slogan. The mantra. I wonder if there's an app for affection, love, sex, compassion, respect or if you can just buy a boyfriend or girlfriend and not have to really deal with people anymore. I'm being facetious, but you hopefully get my point.
I'd love a day where everyone turned off their phone and we took that energy we focus on our phones to something else, like the state of our nation, the poor, the unhealthy, the uneducated, the underprivileged, the people who need some energy to be sent their way. Instead of making it all about profit, why not actually create some humanitarian or philanthropic applications that make it easier for people to give, to care, to support others.
In the meantime, the fast-paced race to provide the most, the best, the greatest continues. Me, I'm decked out in last year's trainers while everyone else is rushing out to buy the new Air Jordans. See, that's how dated I am. I can't even tell you what shoes are cool.
26 going on 87.
Justin Thompson is a freelance writer and spends his days toiling as a marketing communications consultant. Thankfully, hours of hot yoga relieve the rigors of both. To read more of his thoughts, visit http://justinyourmind.com.