Often, companies make products intended to save you from the products of other companies. Sometimes, they try to save you from yourself. But seldom do they try to save you from the products they make, especially the ones they have already sold you.
Right now, the smartphone industry is tripping all over itself to save consumers from the harmful side effects of using their products. Imagine if tobacco companies were producing products to help you quit smoking. While socially beneficial, such an arrangement hardly makes business sense.
The Ringer asks, “Will Mindful Technology Save Us From Our Phones—and Ourselves?” They start by describing a new class of phone.
“The Palm is the latest entry into a new genre of hardware, one that attempts to limit the barrage of digital add-ons that consumers increasingly expect to find in their devices. The Palm is a relatively gentle step in this direction: The phone is available only as an additional device to your primary Verizon smartphone. The idea is that a user can leave their notification-overloading real phone at home during times they want to be more present IRL. For the smartphone owner, it’s the equivalent of having a cabin for weekend escapes.”
The new Palm is not the only entry into this category currently in the news. There are startups working on products right now to fill this nascent market. These phones are designed to be shuttlecrafts that allow us to leave the mother ship. Cell phone companies are treating them like mere add-ons to an existing phone line.
When Apple introduced the Apple Watch a few years ago, it was presented as a device to prevent us from using the iPhone so much. All of a sudden, it became a bad thing to pull out your iPhone to perform tasks. Note that Apple wasn’t trying to get us to stop doing those tasks. For whatever reason, they just thought it would be a good idea if we did them on a different Apple device.
In iOS 12, Apple is taking more direct steps to prevent us from using the iPhone by introducing Screen Time. It shows you exactly how much time you spend on the phone, and exactly what it is you are doing. It even counts the times you pick it up. In a sense, Apple wants to shame you into using the iPhone less. Google is doing the same thing with its latest Android release.
Ironically, the companies that are trying so hard to get you to stop using their products are doing so by giving you another product to focus on. The solution is more technology. The Apple Watch does not stop you from using technology. It gives you another piece of technology to maintain. Screen Time is technology on an iPhone that keeps your focus locked on those graphs and charts.
Today, some people feel like they cannot exercise or eat in a healthy manner, or even sleep without more technology tracking every molecule in their body. While some argue the use of technology improves their performance, others feel like it’s telling them which aspects of their lives about which they need to worry, and of course, that can be fixed with more technology.
It could be that we do not need to be saved from our smartphones and technology. And if we do, we perhaps should consider finding that salvation someplace besides those very same smartphone and technology peddlers.