Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Engrossing: Chronicles of an iPhone owner: the slippery slope of staying connected

Published: December 2, 2011
Section: Opinions

Hello. My name is Morgan Gross and I may or may not be addicted to my iPhone.

To understand how this happened—it certainly hasn’t always been this way—we must go back a few weeks in time.

I have been a BlackBerry owner, tried and true, for years. While I have always been reliant on my phone to stay connected, I have never been attached to the device. In fact, I often frustrated my friends and family with my failure to check my phone for hours (and sometimes days) at a time. My BlackBerry served its purpose, by letting me call and text anyone that I needed to, check my e-mail and occasionally play a game of BrickBreaker when train rides (or lectures) got unbearable. The BlackBerry’s unreliable Internet service, countless glitches, frozen screens and hours of pointless loading, however, left me disenchanted with the device and put me on the prowl for something new.

I never thought I’d be an iPhone owner, but the heady cocktail of creative ad campaigns, BlackBerry boredom and peer pressure tempted me away from my established ways. Now, after Thanksgiving break—and as the result of an early-Hanukkah windfall (thanks, Mom!)—I am the owner of a brand-spanking-new iPhone 4S.

Upon purchasing the phone, my first move was to procure a protective case. The iPhone is a Faberge egg compared to the brick of the blackberry curve and it is certainly not Morgan-proof. I needed something to compensate for my less-than-graceful ways and tendency to drop, break and shatter any and everything in my wake.

After taking a few minutes to appreciate the phone’s physical beauty, now sheathed in the sleek blackness of protective polycarbonate, I set out to discover all that my new toy had to offer.

For starters, in addition to the phone, e-mail, Internet and music capabilities, expected from most smartphones, there are the thousands of apps that come preloaded or available for purchase and use with the iPhone. There are games, search engines, databases and social media outlets galore. Also, many popular companies and websites offer applications for iPhone, which allow you to access the website’s information right from the iPhone’s home screen. The iPhone afforded me so much convenience; now, I could find anything from restaurant recommendations to train schedules with no unwieldy browser use needed. I had no idea what I was missing with the BlackBerry!

Also, a new feature of the iPhone—which came with the release of the 4S in October—is Siri, a voice-controlled personal assistant software. According to the Apple website, “Siri on iPhone 4S lets you use your voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and more. Ask Siri to do things just by talking the way you talk. Siri understands what you say, knows what you mean, and even talks back.”

Basically, you hold the iPhone’s home button, tell Siri what you want her to do and she does it. It’s crazy. Siri can schedule appointments, set alarms, convert units, look up information, get directions, call, text, e-mail and all sorts of other stuff.

I admit that this was the feature of the phone that fascinated me the most. I spent hours playing with Siri, asking her questions and seeing what she could do. The Siri software, in and of itself, is a lazy person’s dream. It makes it so that you don’t even have to navigate the iPhone to access its myriad features.

Within a few hours of playing with the iPhone, I came to the realization that I will never have to be bored again. I have the entire world, packaged in one sleek rectangle, in my pocket at any given time, its contents just a finger-slide away. When I first bought the iPhone, I was excited about this prospect; however, I had no idea of the effect that access (and accessibility) would have on me.

Since my iPhone ownership began, I have been attached to the device. It is constantly on my person, in my pocket or (most likely) in my hands. I find myself taking it out, unlocking it and staring at the home screen, with the realization that I had no one to text and nothing to look up. Even worse, I find myself playing with my phone while I am talking to my friends or sitting in class.

The iPhone was supposed to make me more productive and organized, with its advanced scheduling software and access to the world, not fuel my distraction. While it’s true that I never have to be bored again, I wonder if this means that I will forget how to deal with things that are boring, or even things that are not totally interesting to me.

Balancing the iPhone’s utility and distraction has been an unexpected challenge, but is something that I will have to figure out—especially since I have used up my phone’s upgrade (and Hanukkah presents) and won’t be getting a new one for a very long time.