The idol that is the mobile phone.
Shortly after release to the general public of the latest Apple phone, iPhone 6, a BBC technology news article says there are now 83 million mobile phone contracts in the UK. That is more contracts than there are people and is just the number of phones on contract, not taking into account pay-as-you-go phones have been purchased outright. Of those 83M an estimated two thirds, around 56M, are smart phones.
Whilst this article is not directed specifically at iPhone users, it can hardly be denied that no other phone has such a cult following attracting fans, or perhaps I should say fanatics, to queue around the block each time new model goes on sale. The layout of the Apple retail shops do not help the perception. Have you noticed how they give the impression of a series of altars for the faithful to worship at, bringing offerings and paying homage to the great god Apple. Please don’t think I have a downer on Apple products, they are well designed, functional, useful pieces of technology. I just do not comprehend the almost mystical qualities that some people seem to think they are imbued with.
Have you noticed the way so many people handle them? They are cradled lovingly in the palm of the hand, even when there is no call or message demanding attention. They are constantly stared at, consulted, caressed and some people seem totally incapable of putting them down. When I think how many people in a high street or shopping mall always have their mobile phone in their hand, I wonder if I should have called this article God In Your Hand, instead of God In Your Pocket. And I wonder if it is really still correct to call them phones at all, when voice calling now seems to be only a secondary function for most users. Some mum’s in the street or in a cafe’ seem to give the mobile more attention than to their child they have in tow.
God is all knowing, all seeing and omnipresent. Some people seem to treat their mobile almost in the same way, an object of worship. It brings the world to them. The trouble is that it becomes their world and they lose the experience of the real world, viewing it through that small screen that fits in their pocket.
I am not anti technology, I own a Nexus 4 mobile phone. It does everything I need or want and I probably use only half the capability, if that. Technology companies are not only masters of the technology, they have become masters of advertising and hype too, persuading thousand of people they need the next gadget as soon as it is available. Of course perhaps only 1% of the purchasers need the new technology, the rest just want it persuaded by the slick advertising.
Technology can make our lives easier and better if we are its masters but too often we let the technology become our masters. If we’re not careful, we end up serving the technology of the great gods Apple, or Samsung or Sony or HTC or Blackberry or Nokia, or Microsoft etc.
P.s. My Nexus 4 was bought 9 months after its release to sale.