iPhones present new challenges, addictions

February 18, 2009

Hello, my name is Ryan Self, and it has been 14 minutes since I last used my iPod touch. I suffer from ISAS or iPod Separation Anxiety Syndrome, which is characterized by the incessant need to interact with an iPhone or iPod touch, regardless of setting, for extended periods of time. I know I am not alone in my suffering. I have witnessed the signs and symptoms all across campus while with my friends and peers.

I have been in a room with a small group of people before where the only sound to be heard is the occasional brushing of the touch screen because everyone is on their iPhones. I confess, I am the chief abuser, since rather than talk to the person directly beside me, I’d rather Facebook chat someone somewhere else.

Some have claimed that Generation Y, those born between 1976 and the mid-90s, lack interpersonal skills compared to the preceding generation. I certainly prefer to text someone rather than call him or her, even though a two-minute phone call would make more sense. I don’t believe our generation communicates less effectively; actually, we probably communicate more. The difference 20 years and the introduction of new technology makes is that conversation now flows not from person to person, but from iPhone to iPhone.

The introduction of the iPhone to ACU’s campus has been an exciting and welcome addition, yet although it brings many benefits, it also brings many distractions. It’s interesting to sit in Chapel or church, and in order to read Scripture, see everyone pull out not Bibles, but iPhones to read from the Bible verse applications. The temptation, however, easily becomes to switch from the Bible verse application to Checkers, Cube Runner or Tap Tap Revenge. If you sit near the top seats of Moody Coliseum, you have a full view of the hundreds of screens displaying everything but the worship lyrics.

Not to say that these electronics aren’t immensely helpful and sometimes very necessary. One of President Obama’s biggest battles upon taking office was not with Congress, but with his security staff over his need to keep a Blackberry on hand at all times. However, Barack Obama’s daily life and information needs are significantly greater than my need to check my Facebook notifications every 15 minutes. 

When this year’s freshmen become seniors, there will be an iPhone or iPod touch in the hands of nearly every person on campus. I can’t help but worry that ACU’s campus will resemble the scenes from Disney’s Wall-E, where everyone is so focused on the computer screens in front of them that they are unaware of anything and anyone else around them.

For those who suffer from ISAS, which I believe is a large number of people on campus, there is hope. It remains simply a matter of keeping the iPod or iPhone away from view during Chapel or while with other people (unless there is an amazing YouTube video to show people, then that’s completely understandable). This new technology should enhance, not distract from, our daily lives. Sometimes that may mean stifling the need to beat your top time at Super Monkey Ball and simply enjoy the simple pleasures all around you.

Sent from my iPod.

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2 Responses to “iPhones present new challenges, addictions”

  1. Brent Bailey Says:

    Good work. Welcome Week was so weird this year…all the freshmen were playing games the whole time instead of meeting new people.

    btw, I loved the WALL-E reference. That movie made me want to throw my cell phone away.

  2. Grace Says:

    I found your blog because I am a college student and it’s pretty much my job to find and read random blogs, plus we have some facebook friends in common.
    I recently gave away my iPhone because I lost the ability to sit still without looking up a random wikipedia article or checking my facebook and it was beginning to hurt my feelings that I didn’t have a new notification every nine seconds when I looked. So, I feel you. I just wanted to say that the last four words of this blog post made me laugh hysterically.
    Thanks.


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