I’ve been having problems with my iPhone. The battery only lasts a couple of hours. I have to charge it all day in the office and all night at home, and I even bought an extra battery pack to carry with me when I’m on the move. When the battery dies, I’m lost. I finally went to Apple this week, booked an appointment with the Genius Bar, and was told there was nothing wrong with my battery. Mr Genius simply turned off location services on about 50 apps that were running in the background. They had all been sucking the life out of the battery to the point that my phone used as much on standby as it did when I was actively using it.
I use my phone all the time. Not a moment must be wasted: a second of queuing, waiting at the lifts, my computer starting up… I take out my phone in an instant. Did I get a new email in the last two minutes? A Facebook notification? What’s happening on Twitter? Instagram? LinkedIn? Did I already check in on Foursquare? Is it my turn to play scrabble? No wonder the battery runs out so quickly. What on earth did we do before smartphones? How could we stand waiting for the bus, at the post office, at airport security? Did we actually walk to places without listening to music (except those cool kids in the 80s with their boomboxes)? Did we read books – gasp! – on public transport?
In the latest episode of The New Normal (yes, it’s a bit silly, and I haven’t quite warmed to it yet, but I am enjoying it), Brian and David decide to go ‘technology free’ for one day so as to have more quality face time. It’s not a bad idea. It’s unusual to have dinner with someone without at least one of you taking out your phone at some point during the evening. Some people leave their phone on the table in front of them, to ensure that they don’t miss a thing. I seem to remember reading some statistic on the number of people who touch their phone in the morning before touching anything else (AHEM). There are even concerns that children are missing out on invaluable interaction with their parents, who find it easier to use an iPad as a babysitter.
On the other hand, this technology brings us closer. I’m playing scrabble daily with my mum and sister in London and my aunt in Texas. I message my friends in far-off Nyon to check in on how they are doing and get pictures of their ever-evolving babies. I don’t have to point out how Skype has allowed me to keep in touch with my family abroad, most importantly now helping me stay close to my two-year-old nephew. And it’s not just for people living in other countries. I would argue that Facebook allows us to develop more intimate relationships with friends at home. It may seem like a paradox, and I’m sure those freaks among you who aren’t on Facebook at all would scoff at such a notion (though you’re probably not reading this post in that case). But status updates, comments, and shares allow us to tell people how we’re feeling (sometimes too much, I grant you), to provide support or encouragement, to get tips, to broadcast successes… and just to laugh together. I may be biased, working as I do in digital marketing… What do you think?