I don’t have an iPhone. Yet. I’m #5 in line when they arrive in a week or two following the October 4 Grand Unveiling that looms as large as the Second Coming to True Believers.
It’s true I’ve become a devoted Apple user–a conversion that took place almost four years ago now. Having used a PC since 1985, leaving one for another, substituting one set of gestures, liturgies and codes of practice for one almost wholly different–was like a divorce. The new marriage at first was as drastic a shock as if I had suddenly forgotten my native tongue.
And so I understand that as far as the brain sees it, our “operating systems” can be in some ways comparable to our “ethical systems” that tell us what is right and wrong at any given time and place. The rewards we gain from remembering what is behind Door Number ONE or the secret incantation to give us instantaneous access to the maze of access inside a visually-stunning application that we wield like a digital Swiss Army Knife–these things we do with our machines reward us like caresses from a lover.
This, apparently, is more than writerly metaphor. When it comes to our hand-held gadgets, we are less addicted to them than in love with them.
“So are our smartphones addictive, medically speaking? Some psychologists suggest that using our iPhones and BlackBerrys may tap into the same associative learning pathways in the brain that make other compulsive behaviors – like gambling – so addictive. As with addiction to drugs or cigarettes or food, the chemical driver of this process is the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine.
As we embrace new technology that does everything but kiss us on the mouth, we risk cutting ourselves off from human interaction. For many, the iPhone has become a best friend, partner, lifeline, companion and, yes, even a Valentine.”
And so I contemplate another divorce–from an Android smartphone I got almost two years ago when I had to give my clinic phone back as I faded from the work scene into retirement. I would need a phone. Why not pay a dollar a day for the built-in GPS, web and mail, camera and atom-smasher than would come with a smartphone, I rationalized.
And I can’t say I look back with regret–either on the switch to the Mac or the impending catechism of OS purity I expect soon to bring all my “devices” under True Unity of Interoperable Bliss.
Unlike some of my friends and relatives, I am not in a Siamese-twin relationship with my phone. I do not do text messaging. I do not play games. I don’t watch movies, listen to long streams of iTunes music or use the camera for photos or movies. I think I have and trust I will be able to have an amicable relationship without codependency or clingy obsessive moon-eyed fawning.
I think I am about to drink the Kool-Aid. Again. But I hope that we can be just friends.