Many people are excited about the latest iPhone. I’m somebody who likes gadgets – and while I’m not going to be updating my iPhone anytime soon, I do thoroughly enjoy (and rely on) my smartphone.
Back in the states, I finally talked my parents into getting iPhones. They aren’t the most tech savvy folk out there (up until a few years ago, they were still using a rotary phone), but smartphone costs have gone down in price, and dramatically improved in quality over the last few years. The main benefit for me is being able to text for free with them (via iMessage). Even calling is free (via Skype or Viber).
They’ve had their phones for a week or so now, and we’ve had more than a few Skype lessons over the computer that went like this…
Me: Click on the icon in the lower left corner.
Mom: I don’t see it.
Me: It’s in the lower left corner.
Mom: It’s not there.
Me: It’s there – lower left corner.
Mom: Oh, there it is.
I asked them yesterday what they thought of their new phones. The response: “I love it. I'm spending so much time on it.” Now I know I’m completely addicted to my phone, and as I look at the people around me, I can’t help but think they are too.
Nowadays, we’ve become reliant on smartphones (or more precisely, our desire to stay connected). Sometimes my reliance on technology bothers me. Whether it’s for work, or my personal life, or my writing, I spend a lot of time on my laptop, on my phone, in front of a television (and I don’t even have cable). Even at night, I read books on my phone or e-reader. All day it seems like I’m staring at nothing but a screen.
It’s not that I don’t get outside, I feel confident saying that I’m outside more than the average person. I hike almost every weekend, I paddleboard, I run, I bike, I walk aimlessly around the city. I do many of these things on a daily basis. But I will say through all of that – I have my phone with me.
It’s not necessary to explain the benefits of staying connected through technology. The benefits in my opinion do outweigh the price. But there is a price we pay – and I think it comes in the form of our experiences.
Our experiences make us who we are. To me, experience is the essence of identity. Perhaps the main benefit to social media is this: It’s easy to share our experiences. That though is also the problem (at least for me). I tend to think the need to share somehow changes the experience.
It changes what we experience, it changes why we have the experiences we do, and it changes how we experience things. Part of this taps into human nature. We all like attention and social media is attention. It also provides a nice illusion to drape over those times you feel lonely. It’s comfort food for an awkward situation.
If you’ve gone to a concert in the last few years, you’ll see everyone with their hand up recording the whole thing on their phone – that’s just pure obnoxiousness to me. You are there in the here and now – and you are sacrificing that for what? To share the experience? To get attention? To forgo actually experiencing something real, in favour of watching it later on a screen. It doesn’t make sense to me.
Sometimes it seems like we are skipping the here and now because we want to read about it later. That is my problem with this need to constantly stay connected.
I don’t have what it takes to live completely off the grid, but I will say this about the new iPhone update, it has a do not disturb option built in (besides the obvious off switch). I think that’s a brilliant idea. I just hope people use it from time to time. Now forgive me as I check in on Foursquare and Instagram my breakfast.