How do you iPhone? How the iPhone has entered our lives

What extent has the iPhone infiltrated people's lives, and what does it mean for human interactions?

This morning I saw a man with an iPhone run the San Francisco Marathon. I was using my trusty iPod Nano with the Nike+ feature instead. There was something about the iPhone that wouldn't allow me to even bring the iPhone to the race. I wouldn't check it in with my sweats, much less wear it on my arm as I run 13+ miles. I would fear losing it or breaking it. So, I went without phone - which caused me to miss one of my friends at the finish line.

This leads me to think that this fellow iPhone-laden marathoner had: (1) purchased one of the raft of iPhone cases as part of the accessoriesthat have flooded the market recently and, (2) really embraced the iPhone as his go-to device under all circumstances. I'm not sure how I'd feel if someone called me after the 10th mile, but it'd be an interesting prospect.

But, this lead me to consider to a larger question about how integrated the iPhone gets with our daily lives. There are some like me who wouldn't even check the iPhone in with my things for fear of losing it (it did take about 15 minutes of searching to find my bag filled with my wind pants and sweat shirt at the end of the race) or breaking it. Yet there are others like iPhone man who are more than willing to wear it running an inordinate amount of miles with the ability to browse a page or two, answer a call or catch a SMS text all while running along. The iPhone's capabilities both presents increased social convenience and yet it can also increase social alienation at the same time.

For example, at the Daft Punk concert in Berkeley on Friday with my friends, the iPhone allowed us to text drink orders and locations to each other rather than trying to call them through the noisy din. Also, better yet, we had a camera along too that could allow us to take pictures of the concert/light show. The browser allowed us to look up random trivia about Daft Punk on Wikipedia. For example, did you know that Daft Punk's first album was influenced from attending a rave at Euro Disneyland?

But there is an anti-social element to having an iPhone along in daily life too. Sure you can be inherently social by taking photos, having constant accessibility and having an iPhone as a conversation starter. But, as I've often experienced in the past month, when a friend pulls out their iPhone to text, browse, or what not, it's pretty obvious that your friend is no longer looking at you. And, since the iPhone is both larger and more beautiful than an ordinary cell phone, you really notice when people have broken eye-contact with you to look at a text message, email or webpage that's just loaded.

So what does this mean overall?

Perhaps the iPhone heralds a shift in the way we interact with one another. It's only a part of a larger trend sure, but the iPhone may well lead to people being less social in person, but more social in the abstract, i.e., with people who are not physically present. Worrying about this, I've recently learned that I should try harder to keep my iPhone out of sight and to enjoy the company I am with or to enjoy that bit of in-accessibility, especially when running a road race. (Also, at the movies, anyone checking their iPhones should realize the screen's size makes it a virtual flashlight!)

This is all kind of appropriate because one of the big things Daft Punk 'sang' about was the difference between "human" and "robot" - Where does the line end and start? Add in the new Bluetooth headsetto the fray and a truly confusing situation could emerge.

Anway, I've attached some photos of humans and humans pretending to be robots (I think) from the Daft Punk show that I took (obviously) with my iPhone's camera.

Humans (my friends Max and Zach) being social at Daft Punk as captured with the iPhone's camera. Kevin Ho
More humans (Me and Logan) being social at Daft Punk as captured by the iPhone. Max Tiran
Humans looking like robots, Daft Punk in concert as captured by the iPhone's camera. Kevin Ho
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About the author

    Kevin Ho is an attorney living in San Francisco. He's from Iowa originally where he got his first Atari computer when he was little and remembers using the Apple IIGS. He is PC-user but secretly a Mac person in the closet as evidenced by many an iPod cluttering his desk drawers. He'll be writing about his experience with the iPhone. Disclosure.

     

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