What is killing humanity? It could be our inability to get along with one another, to remain tolerant of and even embrace some of our differences, but one more obvious problem might be what is tearing us apart.
Our iPhones. Or, more broadly, an increasing amount of attention that we devote to our handheld devices relative to the decreasing amount of attention we pay to one another on a personal basis.
If you were younger and heading off to college, what career path would you choose? Here are a few that are indicative of how our smartphone addictions might be the precursor to the death of our species.
Chiropractor – Look around. What do you see? In any single group of people you will see them hunched over their smartphones, necks leaning forward to view the screen. That posture is repeated at home, work, and school with tablets and PCs. With so many neck and shoulder problems among those of use who strain to keep up with the latest, Chiropractic looks like a good career path for the future.
Psychologist – Our handheld devices keep us in touch but without the touch; increasingly we are becoming devoid of personal human contact. That cannot be good for the species. Psychologists can help us see where we need to place our personal priorities. Nobody gets a good night of sleep while strapped to an iPhone to check on FOMO. Fear of missing out.
Ophthalmologist – How can staring into a bright display for hours a day be good for our eyes? In effect, it’s not, and that means increased eye strain and an eye doctor’s practice can only improve thanks to a few billion smartphone and PC users who can’t take their eyes off Facebook, Twitter, email, text messaging, and YouTube.
You can see where this is going, right? Our obsession with always being connected and the fear of missing out has physical and mental ramifications. We could be killing ourselves.
Cal Newport thinks what Apple’s co-founder might be thinking if he were alive today.
Steve Jobs Never Wanted Us to Use Our iPhones Like This
Why not? That means more iPhone sales, more apps, more usage, more Services, more revenue and profit for Apple.
How did Jobs present iPhone to the world?
If you watch the full speech, you’ll be surprised by how he imagined our relationship with this iconic invention, because this vision is so different from the way most of us use these devices now.
It’s true. Jobs did not dig into all the capabilities that applications could provide to iPhone users. Internet connectivity was almost an afterthought.
He doesn’t dedicate any significant time to discussing the phone’s internet connectivity features until more than 30 minutes into the address.
Part of that may have to do with the original iPhone’s poor internet connectivity. It was Edge. Not even 3G. Today’s 4G LTE often exceeds the internet’s average speeds of 20 mbps.
Jobs envisioned a simpler and more constrained iPhone experience than the one we actually have over a decade later. For example, he doesn’t focus much on apps.
Jobs did not like the idea of applications as they exist today and was reluctant to allow Apple to create the App Store.
Jobs seemed to understand the iPhone as something that would help us with a small number of activities — listening to music, placing calls, generating directions. He didn’t seek to radically change the rhythm of users’ daily lives. He simply wanted to take experiences we already found important and make them better.
Note how that perspective has been expanded to what Newport calls the constant companion model. Jobs was a minimalist. An iPhone is not a minimalist product. Excessive use could be killing the species.
To be a minimalist smartphone user means that you deploy this device for a small number of features that do things you value (and that the phone does particularly well), and then outside of these activities, put it away.
Jobs said Apple was going to reinvent the phone. iPhone did that, but its expansion in the past decade may have set humanity on a road with unintended consequences and a deadly destination.
The iPhone is a fantastic phone, but it was never meant to be the foundation for a new form of existence in which the digital increasingly encroaches on the analog. If you return this innovation to its original limited role, you’ll get more out of both your phone and your life.