I was reading an article on the New York Times’ website today, “When Phones Are Just Too Smart,” that was about how many iPhone owners are simply overwhelmed by the bevy of apps (numbering up from 140,000) available to them. The article author, Katie Hafner, says that the average iPhone user only uses 5 to 10 apps consistently. In the Media Ethics class I’m taking this term, our professor Tom Bivins recently told us about a philosopher/writer named Walter Lippman who believed that there was too much information in the world for people to handle. This was in 1922. Imagine what he would think of the plethora of media distractions available today.
The latest advances in technology are really impressive, but one has to wonder how useful they really are. After a certain point, most people just don’t know what to do with all of the options at their feet. I know that I would get an iPhone for the amazing touch screen (if only AT&T would give it up and let Verizon carry the thing), but it’s unlikely that I would use it for anything other than getting directions or looking up movie show times. It seems that technology is advancing so fast that most people are incapable of keeping up with and getting out of it all that it has to offer. You own a laptop for six months and it’s outdated, you finally delete your MySpace account to get on Facebook and Twitter is all the rage.
It’s always a race to master the hottest new thing in world of technology. But it seems to me that life is already complicated enough – and though devices like the iPhone are meant to make things simpler, it seems that the one thing they tend to do the most is make people feel even more swamped by an excess of options they don’t really need.