I think I’ve figured out why people who use their smartphones and tablets extensively are so loathe to give them up, and why people like me can’t put them down. The answer’s pretty obvious, and I fully expect that this is something well-known by analysts and service providers, but just how true it was, was something I hadn’t really thought about until now.
The reason we get so anxious when we leave our smartphones behind is that, more and more, we’re using them as extensions for our brain.
My friends’ email addresses, their phone numbers, their messages to me. My location, where I want to be, when I should be there and why I’m going. My entertainment, my stocks (not that I, personally, have many) – all these things and more are accessible through (and sometimes only through) my smartphone.
My brain is a clever organ which has spent the last few billions years improving itself at how well it picks up information, sifts through the myriad datastreams available and picks out what’s relevant. It’s been plugged into our ears, our eyes, our bodies, our nose, our tongues… and now, albeit at one remove, into our phones.
Our phones have, in the past few years, become another sense-organ that our brain has learned to take advantage of. And like most of us, we don’t relish giving up that extra sense. How many of you, if you can stop to imagine it for a while, would willingly give up your eyes or ears? So are you really surprised when we’re asked to give up our access to a whole new ordinality by switching off parts of our brains?
Once we’ve had a taste of that other, nebulous world, voluntarily going half blind and deaf doesn’t sound that much fun, does it?