Our phones are killing us.
Let’s go back a bit. The world took a hit of one of the most addictive items in 2007 when Steve Jobs announced the iPhone. For those that were using phone before the iPhone came out, you’ll remember innovative features like how small can we make these phones, picture messaging, and even PDA features. As an early adopter of the iPhone, I remember people saying they’re not sure they need to get email on their phone and it’ll never replace my point and shoot camera. Fast forward to nearly the 10 year mark coming up and it’s a rarity to see anyone without a “smartphone.” It’s become the essential device that everyone has on them all the time. It’s the device we wake up to and the device we go to bed with.
I was out to dinner a few days ago and I watch a young couple eat together. The guy was on his phone the entire time, scrolling with his left hand and eating with his right hand. His presumably girlfriend was eating next to him, staring into space. Instead of striking up conversation as we used to, this couple were connected to the world at their fingertips but so far apart they might as well eat alone. This used to be an extreme case but it’s the norm today. We spend more time photographing our meals and sharing it with the world than we are sharing it with those in front of us.
Is this old fashion thinking? I don’t think so. It’s not a generational issue, it’s not an age issue. It’s happening across the board. The appeal of connection of our phones, apps, social networks is addicting. Infinite scrolls is infinite, the news and updates will never end.
I caught myself in this addiction. My world was projected on a four inch screen. I was caught up on 4K resolution screens rather than the 360 immersive resolution of the real world. It’s the fear of missing out that drives us away from the beautiful world back into the virtual world. Instead of living our own lives, we live in the lives of filtered and staged experiences of others.
I’m calling it out now. Please innovate us out of this mess. Get us away from the touch screen and back to the big world again. Make wearables that tap us when something is important for our attention and make interactions with machines where we can do so looking up rather than down. Technology should enhance our lives, not replace it.