With the recent release of the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, the smartphone market is alive with more competition than ever before. Sony and Samsung, two of Apple’s biggest competitors, recently spent millions of marketing dollars on advertisements attacking Apple and its fans. Taking to Twitter, Samsung designed an ad campaign centered around an old Steve Jobs quote. “No one is going to buy a big phone,” the ad states. “Guess who surprised themselves and changed their minds. #MoreThanBig.”
Over the years I have watched smartphones go from fantasy to luxury to essential items. An analysis by the International Data Corporation shows that more than 1 billion smartphones are being sold each year. Another analysis by Gartner finds that consumers spend over $1 trillion on smartphones yearly. These statistics lend credence to the huge market presence that smartphones have developed in their less than 10-year existence.
Though there is nothing innately wrong with this, it has created a transition previous generations haven’t had to navigate. Our generation is growing up in a world where face-to-face communication is less common than digital interaction.
Perhaps more than most, I have bought into this mindset. At the touch of a screen, I can text with friends. Talk with family. Chat with strangers. With the flick of a finger, I can see what almost everyone around me is doing. Best of all, Siri and Google are always in my pocket, ready to answer all my random questions. Thanks to texting and tweeting, traditional spelling and grammar have largely gone the way of the paper dictionary.
Relationships with friends, family and employers suffer as some people trade engagement with reality for connection over social media. Many report significant interruptions and distractions from learning, working and sleeping.
But it is not our smartphones making us dumb, disengaged, inefficient or perverted. Social media is not making us antisocial. These are problems with us, not our digital devices.
This has been the case every time a new technology has been introduced. Some will use it wisely; others will not. Our generation must acknowledge a new set of technological questions and responsibilities with increasing frequency.
But unlike most of today’s problems, there are no widgets, apps or social media tools that can help us do that. While mobile devices do provide us with a greater degree of convenience and connectedness, we should remember what we are forfeiting in exchange.
We have allowed our mobile devices to change our lives in a way that is “#MoreThanBig.” By allowing our smartphones to play such an integral role in our lives, we are plugging into a reality where digital communication replaces face-to-face interaction. Technology may be morally neutral, but societal norms are determined by collective decision. Steve Jobs might say that nobody is going to buy a big phone, but in most cases, consumers are willing to jump on the bandwagon of any technological innovation that comes their way.
As with last month, I’m sure some new smartphone capable of revolutionizing my life will be released soon. But I remain unconvinced by their claims. Anything that improves the quality of our lives is a positive thing, but anything that displaces our natural human interactions has the potential to destroy us.
Editor-in-chief Alex Cnossen is a junior communication major.