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What the iPhone has done to our society

The Apple iPhone recently celebrated its 10th birthday on June 29th, 2017. In typical Absolute fashion, we celebrated this milestone with a party and a cake. We spent some time reminiscing about all the great things the iPhone brought us. However, it wasn’t too much time or too many drinks before the conversation shifted to some of the negative impacts the iPhone has had on our lives. Based on the amount of complaints, groans, and arguments at our party, here are the top negative effects that the iPhone has had on people’s behaviors, and society in general.

We Are Too Vain

This one was rather easy to come up with. Our offices have a beautiful balcony that overlooks the city. We share our floor with The Attic Café and frequently have to chase people off our balcony trying to capture the perfect selfie.

But even without a balcony, we’ve all seen it, people huddling around a phone and posing, sometimes with insufferable duck faces. The iPhone is held up high at an angle that was first popularized by MySpace, sometimes necessitating a selfie stick if the group is large enough.

People have injured, even killed themselves by accident in pursuit of the perfect selfie. One poor soul attempted to take a selfie of himself holding a handgun, and accidentally shot and killed himself. While this is an extreme example, it is one to learn from.

Using apps like Instagram to build an audience, a new class of Instagram Celebrity has emerged. Marketers and designers have begun to describe locations and moments as “Instagrammable.” There are event coffee table books made up of selfies and several celebrities routinely publish their selfies in bound collectible books.

From everyday people to celebrities, brands and companies, the selfie has taken become a part of our culture and does not appear to be going away anytime soon.

We Are Too Attached to Our Phones

How many times have you reached into your pocket, or searched frantically in the depths of your purse, only to experience that sinking feeling when your phone isn’t there? That’s because we have developed a deep sense of separation anxiety when we are distanced from our phones. Mobile phones are no longer just a communication medium in the case of an emergency. They’re our safe place. A tranquil screen that shows us only what we want, when we want it. And being away from it causes us great distress.

This anxiety is currently being studied by researchers and the name Nomophobia has been proposed to describe this form of anxiety disorder.

We Overshare

Why wouldn’t you take a picture of your gorgeous, bacon and maple encrusted donut, and share it on Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #foodporn? Having a connected device accessible to you at all times has made it possible to update everyone in your social circle with every little menial detail of your life. While it’s sweet to be able to document and have photographic memories forever in the digital world, it’s annoying too. Not everyone wants to see what you have eaten or read your “inspirational” quotes.

We Rely on Our Devices as Long Term Memory

When we were younger, many of us could recite dozens of phone numbers and other memorized facts. Today we find it difficult to remember more than a handful of phone numbers. We also find ourselves using the phone’s GPS to find our away around our own hometowns. In some ways, these devices have become a supplement for our own brains.

We Let the iPhone Come Between Us

Not only has the iPhone increased our vanity and obsession to document everything, but it has come at the cost of our personal relationships. Think of all the parties or gatherings you have attended, where people were scrolling through their phones instead of interacting with each other. What about the sting a lover felt when they told partner something important across the dinner table, only to see the glow of their screen reflected on their face as they completely tuned them out. “Sorry, what? I was reading something on my phone and didn’t hear you,” is the normal response.

The iPhone has certainly pushed the adoption and usage of mobile devices and its app ecosystem has led to the creation of many apps that we can’t remember living without. However, we should also understand that new technology often drives social changes, some good and some bad.

Miné Salkin

Miné Salkin is a multimedia producer with a specialty in marketing, tech writing and digital storytelling.

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