The “I sooo love my phone” phenomenon

About the emotional attachment to a phone

Tonight I spent time with my friends and at some point they talked about their phones. Two of them had the same Blackberry, and another one had the iPhone. The conversation went something like this:

blackberry1 Oh my god! I so love my phone! Today I went grocery shopping, my hands were full of bags, and suddenly I realized I didn’t have my phone with me. I completely panicked, I put all the bags down. Put my bag upside down. Didn’t find it. I was so in panic. I checked everything until I realized I had put it…….. in my pocket !!!!!! Phewwwww. I’m always looking for it. I should buy a bracelet or something for it. I was so relieved, I love it so much!
blackberry2 Oh yeah. I really love mine too.
iphone Me, the same. Sometimes I’m even looking for it everywhere until I realize that…. it’s in my hands…and that I was doing something with it!!
android (me) (-__-)

It was funny. I was really surprised. I had never witnessed such an emotional attachment for a phone. I had heard about it, but never witnessed it for real. Is it the result of incredible UI, or what? I don’t get that excited about my phone in public, I mean… it’s only a phone. No? “No, it’s also an iPhone!”, “It’s a living little robot.”, “It’s my Best friend !!” … (-__-)

I’m not particularly attached to my phone, and one of the reasons why I didn’t get an iPhone is because I didn’t want to be constantly afraid of losing it or be irrationally attached to it. I didn’t want to be dependent. Fear of commitment. Or material detachment. I’m rather afraid of losing my phone because of its value, as in “oh no I’ve just lost 500€” but not “oh no I’ve just lost a part of me”. (Because the part of me that’s in my phone is already backed up online (!))

But I realized the attachement came from the fact that they use their phones extensively to communicate and also use apps that they love on them = apps that are useful and that just work. It’s like the relationship you could have with someone that did you a lot of favors, or just a company that provides a great service and always. You inevitably like them. My lack of attachment probably comes then from the fact that I don’t use a lot of apps, just the regular ones for usual tasks, I’m more on the web than on the phone. My interaction with my phone is also probably less smooth than on an iphone because I can put files on it and to access them I need to go somewhere in something like /mtn/sd/ which is really less glamorous than pressing a glossy button. But in the end, as long as it’s functional, I love it too. But the question is, can I just say “I love it because it works”?, or – correction “Oh my god, I sooo love my phone because it works!” I might as well say I love my toaster too. But truly this is my only reason for “loving” any piece of technology: because it works and it helps me. It’s new for me that ungeek people describe so emotionally their experience with their phones and share their “my phone & me” stories in social context.

I realized that provoking this kind of attachment was definitely not my goal in UI. I take it as a consequence of good UI, but let’s not make it the goal. Please, no. I rather support total independence. Liking the technology you use is important, it means you enjoy using it and it works frictionlessly. But being dependent on it, especially emotionally dependent is dangerous and the best way to get caught in a closed system. You will never leave the comfort zone it keeps you in, even if it costs you all your money and other better solutions exist elsewhere. Even if you find the perfect technology that will accompany you all your life long, I find it really important to still have the possibility of independence a.k.a choice, for freedom’s sake. Not to mention that it doesn’t make any sense … to love your phone.

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I love the services my phone provides, I care for the data, but not especially for the phone .

- Oh my god, I sooo love the data ! -