“The problem with communication
is the illusion that is has occurred.”
- George Bernard Shaw
Tucked away in an intimate corner of a restaurant, a young couple sits facing each other completely absorbed in conversation. Their eyes are fixed, and their hands are locked on the object of their desire, anticipating its every response. Blind and deaf to all else is love…the wonderful abandonment of self and the euphoria of being lost in another.
What if the other isn’t someone? What if it’s something? Upon closer examination this couple reveals a disturbing insight. Their absorption isn’t in each other…it’s in what has become a far more alluring entity, the iPhone, technology giving us 24/7 capability to reach out and touch every corner of the globe.
In a recent interview on Squawkbox, Ken Segall, former ad agency creative director for Apple, explained how he dreamed up the name iMac, the same “i” that has become iPhone, and how he sold his concept to the skeptical Steve Jobs. Although his pitch originally identified the “i” as Internet, it quickly became synonymous with individual, the feature that distinguishes Apple’s genius because it elevates the importance of the user.
Embracing the iPhone has changed the course of human communication, directing us from socializing to social networking, a not-so-subtle difference. Why do an increasing number of people gravitate to social networks? Could it be that the Net offers safety nets from the pitfalls of in-person communication…anonymity and impermanence for two? Could it also be that these nets protect us from the often disappointing reality of the other, enabling us to project our own desires onto those with whom we network; and when this happens, the others become more an extension of us than representative of them?
Neither Segall nor Jobs could have predicted the implications of their far-reaching technology in creating an iCulture. Nor could they have dreamed how much more enticing is the experience of virtual abandonment of the other and the euphoria of being lost in self.