Three Reasons I Hate iPhones

Okay, I admit it, I’ve always been late to the technology game. I didn’t get a cell phone until after college (and I graduated in 2003) and I still have your basic flip phone, where if I want to send a text and the word I want to write starts with, say, “C,” I have to press the 2 button three times to get that C. I have a Twitter account, but for the life of me I can’t figure out what I’m supposed to post on it. I read other people’s posts, and I think, “Huh. I didn’t realize that was worth sharing.” Same goes with Facebook, where I maybe update my own status twice a week and where I’ve hidden a good portion of my so-called friends because their posts annoy the bejeezus out of me. Clearly I am not a technology geek. I admit it. But I’m not going to apologize for it. No, sirree. Instead, I’m going to tell you flat out why I hate iPhones. And Droids. And Blackberries. And every single other smartphone out there. Because I have good reasons, I swear. And because, well, I’m a curmudgeon, and I’m not afraid to admit that either.

So, without further ado, the three reasons I hate iPhones.

1. We’re losing our ability to socialize with the people right in front of us.
Admit it, you’ve gone out to dinner or to the bar with friends, and at least one person in your group spends more time on their phone (texting, checking Facebook, Tweeting) with someone not there than with you. Or you check in to a hostel, go to the common room, and find it completely silent as everyone uses their smartphone to update their website, get suggestions on where to eat from Twitter, or chat with their friends back at home. Or you’re sitting at the airport waiting for your delayed flight to take off, and instead of talking to you, your traveling partner turns on his smartphone and plays Scrabble against the computer. Once upon a time, we used to talk to people live and in person, not just through clever 140 character posts or via comments or through iPhone video chat. Once upon a time, instead of asking the Internet, we asked people at our hostel where they had been and what they’d recommend; we asked the lady at the corner how to get where we were going; we asked the local person next to us on the subway where they’d suggest going for dinner. Once upon a time, when we left our house and our computer behind, we were *gasp* on our own. And guess what? We did just fine.

2.We know everything, but we don’t talk about anything.
You’re at the bar, and a song comes on that you know but you can’t remember who sings it. Used to be that you’d talk it over with your friends, remembering the first time you heard it, or how it came on the radio while you were on that date with that girl and it seemed perfect. Eventually the artist comes to someone, who blurts it out, and you all nod and smile, and say “Yeah, that’s right.” But it wasn’t just about the artist. It was about everything else that song somehow contained. Now, ten beats in, we’ve typed the lyrics into our phone and we’ve got the artist. Conversation over. As I heard said recently, smartphones have absolutely killed bar arguments. As soon as there is a disagreement or even a question, everyone’s on their phone, and the discussion is settled before it can actually become a discussion. We all now *know* a hundred million things (i.e. the Bing commercials), but I’m not sure we’re really knowledgeable about anything. As multiple studies have shown, all our multitasking is changing the way we think, and it’s not in a way that’s increasing our IQs.

3. Everything has become the-house-is-on-fire important.
The smartphone vibrates. Incoming message. Must check now. Oh look, my brother just updated his status on Facebook. He just saw M.C. Hammer walking down the street. Isn’t that awesome? Isn’t your life so much better because you know that, and because you know it now, and not in two hours when you go home and get on your computer? Ohh, another vibration. Email from my mom. She wants me to forward her my Christmas flight info when I get a chance. Better do it now, even though Christmas is 273 days away. Let me do a quick search through my email, type her a short note, and send it. Won’t take but a minute. Ohh, something else. A tweet from that guy who writes that one blog that I read one time. He wants me to vote for his photo, so he can win a free trip to the moon. Just give me one sec while I do that, and then we can order dinner. Seriously, people? Seriously. Let me be clear. You are not that important. The world will not end if you fail to respond to a message within the first ten seconds of receiving it.  Get over yourself. Please. And thank you.

There you go. That’s what I have to say. Go ahead, tell me I’m wrong. I’m used to hearing it. (But don’t think you’re going to change my mind.)

11 Replies to “Three Reasons I Hate iPhones”

  1. Your argument operates through the simple binary of what was then and what is now. It’s more complicated than that. Take the song example. Just because someone uses a smartphone to figure out the artist doesn’t mean that you can’t talk about everything else you mention. Sure, the structure of the conversation might change, but I’m not sure the affective nature of the conversation does.

    Also, your title should not be “Three Reasons I Hate iPhones.” That title doesn’t represent the argument you are putting forward. Your title should be along the lines of “Three Reasons I Hate How People Use IPhones.” Your argument is about human behavior facilitated by new technology. It’s too easy to blame “technology.”

  2. I’ve found that smartphones do indeed change the nature of a conversation. Perhaps the songs example was weak, but the bar arguments example is not. There is no space to argue something out, to give and take, and to come to conclusions on various topics, because someone always has the “answer” right away. Then any incentive to debate the alternatives is lost. For example, the question came up a few weeks ago about what baseball player was the first to hit over 100 homeruns for three different teams. This was at pub quiz so no phones allowed. Our team went down a very wandering path before answering, pulling up all kinds of fun stuff along the way. If a phone had been allowed, we’d have looked it up, had the answer, and moved on.

    As for your title issues, it is clear you teach academic writing and not blog writing 🙂 Titles are about getting attention here. Academic titles like the one you proposed cause people to say “Too long. Moving on.” It’s the same reason I used iPhones and not smartphones in the title. And sure, it’s about the behavior, but in this case the smartphones are the enabler of this behavior, so therefore I can just as resolutely hate iPhones.

  3. Yeah, the pub quiz example is much better. And I agree about the purpose of the title, although I think your title “misrepresents.”

    Here’s what gets me about smart-technology. Nobody makes plans anymore. And you know me as someone who seems to resist too much structure when it comes to plans (and you tend to like such). Between May 2004 and April 2005, I made, say, 7-8ish trips to visit Emily in three different cities by car and plane. I didn’t have a cellphone on a single one of those trips. I left Louisville at X time with the plan to arrive in Y city at Z time. If I got there then, great. If it took longer, she just waited. If it took significantly longer, I found a pay phone.

    Now that’s an example about long-distance travel. Like everyone, I like having a cellphone on long trips. It just astounds me that I used to leave Louisville with a pretty particular plan in place and did my best to stick to it (as I had no means to change it). These days, the closer the geographic area, the worse people are about making plans. And not just making plans, but sticking to them. Everyone just kind of wanders around at their own pace and time.

    That’s really my only complaint with how people use smart technology. People refuse to sign on the dotted lines with plans. It’s not that hard. The plan is to do “this” at “this” time. Is it really that hard?

  4. For the most part, I wish I didn’t even have a cell phone. I’m already more connected than I want to be and I realize I miss absolutely nothing when I’m without my computer/internet for a few days. However I cannot voluntarily unplug myself despite knowing I’m missing nothing.

  5. I would also add to this list that iPhones also provide more of a safe or comfort zone when people travel with all of these restaurant and travel apps. I think this prevents people from getting lost, walking around discovering new neighborhoods and finding cafes/restaurants, etc. When all the maps and suggestions are on your phone, you stop using your gut and curiosity to find cool things and rely on your phone to guide you.

    Full disclosure – I did get a used iPhone earlier this year and I do like the kindle reading app, but I’m hesitant to download any travel-related apps.

  6. Hahahaha….from one flip phone owner to another, I hear you on all counts!

    I’m quite aware of the benefits of owning a smartphone, but I also don’t own one for all the reasons you outlined above. I do enough tech damage with just my laptop. And don’t get me started with Urban, he barely checks his email and isn’t on Facebook 🙂

    Witnessing online arguments spurred on by the false sense of self importance social media gives people is a sad reminder of just how social media fosters that ‘high school’ mentality of trying to fit in.

    While I do hop on Twitter once in a while, I’ve actually scaled back (save for Facebook because most of my family is on there and I’m a continent away).

    Thanks for this article. Know that you’re not alone.

  7. i am with you, i hate most of the new technology, we should go back to pagers and phone booths. technology tries to bring people together but the same people dont want to be with the people who are there with them

  8. @Audrey: Good point. I think at least half the fun of traveling is discovering things for yourself, frequently by getting lost.

    @Lola: I’m with you on Facebook. It’s the way my entire extended family keeps in touch these days. If I closed my account, I’d have no idea what was going on with any of them.

    @Nomadic Matt: I have no doubt your phone has won you many arguments. I just think it takes the fun out of arguments, because the “right” answer is always right there ready to be pulled up. The endless debate is no more. But maybe I’m the only one who liked those anyways. And definitely, I mean all smartphones, not just iPhones.

  9. I love this article! I agree with you about the use of phones, it’s like another appendage. I do have one only because my children think I need one. I do enjoy Facebook, I can keep up with family out of town. But then I miss those two hour “catch up ” phone calls once a month. Such is life I guess. Great writing!

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