Kate and I were walking around Brooklyn this weekend. It was chilly but sunny, and typical New York, you never know for sure what the weather will be like day to day. Last week it was about 70-degrees. But I digress. Wherever we walked we saw plenty of people hunched over their phones. What does that say?
Not. Apple’s. Fault.
It’s likely you’ve experienced the same common phenomenon when you venture out. People everywhere, and in growing numbers thanks to the affordable luxury of a smartphone these days, are hunched over their phones. And if not hunched, cruising along listening to music and oblivious to the world around. It’s not on iPods, either. Those are so 2001. The smartphone– whether Android-based, Apple’s iconic iPhone, or one of the laggards that may still be in business– is everywhere and humans are addicted.
It’s not Apple’s fault. After all, there are more– many more– Android-based smartphones in operation than iPhones, but you get the idea. We’re addicted to our devices for a variety of reasons and it’s not just the hardware technology or the basic applications that come with every smartphone.
Think of the social apps that people seem to be immersed in for hours at a time (whether walking, sitting, or even socializing with friends or family sitting next to them) each day. Facebook has nearly 2-billion users and most of those are using their smartphones, not the desktop on a PC or Mac. And, it’s not just Facebook. Messages is called the single most used application on the iPhone (and it works just as well on a nearby Mac or iPad), and, indeed, is nothing short of its own little platform that is designed to keep people glued to their iPhones, and is just sufficiently proprietary as to keep iPhone customers from switching to something else.
Alright. Maybe it’s a little bit Apple’s fault. But addictions seem inherent within humanity.
So is paranoia. That explains the growing popularity of using text messaging on so-called secure platforms like WhatsApp, Viber, Line, Signal, Telegram, and others. As creatures, we’re not only addictive by nature, we seem to fall into two other groups– paranoid, of course, and ‘what I don’t know can’t hurt me.’
It’s been a challenge, but Kate and I have tried to claim time back from our iPhones, Macs, and iPads, and whenever we’re in a conversation with friends or co-workers, we avoid the incoming alerts and alarms so we can focus on the face-to-face of human communication. It works. Some people have even asked us if we have a smartphone or use email. How quaint.
Look at all the applications that grace your Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Watch. How many of them have little alerts, alarms, and notifications– not including Mail or Messages? We’re creatures of addictive behavior and nothing about that statement is more self evident than those around you with their heads buried in their phones.