September 20, 2013 marked the release date of the newest models of the iPhone: the 5S and 5C. I didn’t hit the malls that day, so I wouldn’t have even known about this if it weren’t for some news articles that popped up on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. The first article pictured people who had been waiting in line since the wee hours of the morning for an Apple Store’s doors to open, even trying to catch some shut-eye on the mall floor. “Fine, a few die-hards will wait in line for anything,” I thought—I know I might get up that early to wait in line for tickets if the World Figure Skating Championships ever came to Ottawa. But later I came across another article that said people had been waiting in line in front of some Apple stores for a week. “A week?! Didn’t they get hungry? What about their jobs or school? Wouldn’t that get boring?!” These were some of the first things that ran through my mind after reading that one.

I once got in an argument with someone on a discussion forum who said that people must now work more than 40 hours a week to afford life’s necessities such as food, cars, houses and iPhones. While I agree that food, transportation and shelter are essential, I fail to see the iPhone as a real necessity. Maybe I’m just not comprehending its greatness, but I’m definitely not as enamoured with this piece of technology as a lot of people seem to be. I have the same Android smartphone that I got for free with my plan two years ago (I care so little about what model I have that I can’t even remember its full name off the top of my head), and that suits me just fine. I sometimes wonder whether my indifference to iPhones comes from the fact that I can’t comfortably afford to use one due to my limited student-writer income, but honestly, I think I’d feel the same way even if I made much more money. I’d rather put money towards a vacation instead, since I find having memorable experiences much more fulfilling than obtaining objects that I’d likely get bored with quickly.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m sure that, used in moderation as a small part of an otherwise full life, the iPhone can be beneficial. For example, I heard about an app that helps people find products that are environmentally friendly. This sounds great, because sometimes these products are hard to identify and locate, but some of the other apps that have been created to make people’s lives easier don’t offer as much pleasure or assistance as they purport to like the apps used to locate certain popular products. Using these apps it’s possible you may walk by the item you were looking for, or something even better while staring at your phone.

As for the apps that allow you to set yourself reminders to do certain things, during the time it would take me to find and download an app like this, and set all the reminders, I feel like at least a couple of tasks could already have been accomplished. In addition to that, always having your eyes on your phone, or waiting for its next instruction takes away from your experience of being out in the world. You likely won’t notice a street band performing, a gorgeous mural on the side of a building or a cute animal. You may not even notice a friend who is trying to say hello. While these seem like such small things to miss, noticing them can really brighten up a person’s day.

Girl checking phone - Living without an iPhone

Another problem the iPhone (and similar technology) creates is the expectation of others that you will be in constant contact with them. Boss called you in for a shift and you didn’t answer? Can’t use the excuse that you weren’t at home to receive the call anymore. Someone emailed you during class and you didn’t reply? “Didn’t you get the notification? Don’t you leave your phone on vibrate at all times?” are just a couple of examples of the queries you may receive. As a writer, I have a huge problem with this, since I can’t concentrate well enough to write when emails, texts and calls are constantly popping up, waiting to be answered. Being mindful of every statement I write is always important, especially when I’m writing for publications like The Mindful Word, and this mindfulness would be almost impossible to keep up if I succumbed to every technological distraction I was presented with. My solution is to turn my phone off, and since people expect that I’m not a cell phone maven because of the fairly old model I carry, they aren’t surprised when they find out that I do so. However, if I were to decide to participate in the iPhone trend, and get all the latest versions and updates, people’s expectations of me might change.

Perhaps the iPhone, due to the fact that the newly released models have brought these thoughts to the forefront of my mind, has unfairly become a scapegoat in this piece. Maybe the problem is the obsession with constant use and updating of cellular technology in general. However, what with Blackberry possibly going out of business, and many people considering Androids not sophisticated enough for their needs, the iPhone bandwagon is the one the vast majority of heavy cell phone users have jumped on. Many of these users tell me that I would love the phone if I just tried using it a bit more. However, as an answer to that, for now I stand by the saying, “Ignorance is bliss.”

image 1: Steve Rhodes (Creative Commons BY NC-ND) ; image 2: avlxyz (Creative Commons BY NC-SA)