Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Smart phones and the illusion of identity

Having an iPhone makes me feel that I am a fun-loving adult who hasn't lost touch with her childhood. Partly in jest, I usually deride BlackBerry owners as stuck up business person wannabes who think they look professional just for owning one. Of course BB users retort by making fun of my "toy". The Android phone owners take a different stance. They are at a higher moral ground because they support open-source solutions, instead of the "fascist" closed-source that is Mac (Yes. I have heard the word used in that specific context). Of course the counter-argument by iPhone users is that no one who spends over 700 dollars on a mobile can claim any moral superiority.

I am not exaggerating. In the past couple of weeks, I have heard (and sometimes used) all of these arguments in very heated debates. This got me thinking. Why are we linking our own identity, moral stance and image with a phone that we buy? It's like giving value to our choice of soap and defining ourselves with it. Have we forgotten that the phone is meant to simply serve us and provide certain functions and tools? To make our lives easier? All I am seeing are a bunch of people (me included) spending loads of money on a device that, quite frankly, most of what we do on them is play games, and in some cases the same game. Yes. You heard me Angry Bird obsessives.

I know this is a sign of excellent marketing strategies by the companies that make the phones, and I'm sure they're relishing and even feeding this debate. But seriously, aren't we mature enough to know that if you can't prove you're cooler because of who you are, your iPhone 5 never will? So just enjoy your phone and what it can do for you, because at the rate we are going, it will become obsolete in no time, as will this meaningless debate.

5 comments:

kmango said...

How we access information and what devices we use is not a meaningless debate, it is already changing how people think, work and play. So may the debate continue! Plus almost all material possession are used by human beings to define identity, from your shoes to your car, so why should phones be any different? As long as everyone understand the i phone trumps all... Only kidding! Well half kidding anyway ...

Sireen said...

I agree, a cell phone is no longer a device that provides a function, it has become a statement setting accesory. Similar to driving a hot car or carrying a $600 handbag! So the debate will absolutly go on!

On that note, I am a new iphone user who used to have a Blackberry. The iphone is a much more fun and useful device with the exception of one aspect; communication. When it comes to connecting and communicating with people, the Balckberry trumps the iphone by a large margin in my opinion. BBM is unbeatable and I miss it dearly! All I can do now is drown my sorrows in a nasty addiction to Angry Birds :) :)

girlish Urbanism said...

i so agree with kmango, in our global (and otherwise!) culture, objects are and were never only functional devices. they carry a lot of codes and symbols about identity and mean even more as they become means for communication..so no, it does matter what you use and well iphones are...

Lama Bashour said...

Kmango, Sireen and girlish Urbanism, I agree with all of you that the choice of phone does say something about you, as much as a Gucci bag does. But my argument was that it doesn't define you, which is at the core of the smart phone debate.

Anonymous said...

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- David