The recent release of the Apple iPhone 4S across AT&T, Verizon and Sprint proved to be the huge success Apple knew it would be. When the first iPhone came out in June 2007, it took the mobile phone market by surprise. Companies who were once at the top like Research In Motion's Blackberry
and Nokia are now a fraction of their former glory, and the market is dominated by Apple.
Apple's iPhone has become synonymous with the word "smartphone," and many people get it solely because their friends and family have it. When asked what they thought of the iPhone, customers replied with "I love my iPhone," "I carry it everywhere I go, I'm addicted to it," or "I can't wait for the new one to come out, I need my fix." Could this be an actual addiction
? A recent study says the answer is probably no . . . but it suggests it could be something stranger: love.
The study, performed by Martin Lindstrom using neuroimaging technology, came to the conclusion that some relationships between users and their iPhones are less like an addiction
and more akin to love
. It reinforces the results from a previous experiment Lindstrom conducted. In this experiment, which took place a few years ago, Lindstrom studied how people perceived different pop culture brands and religious symbols.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the test subjects were exposed to many of the world's most famous brands along with the world's most popular religions. Upon viewing the images displayed on screen, which ranged from Apple and Coca Cola's logos to pictures of the Pope and several churches, the fMRI detected brain activity that was virtually identical. This meant each image was held dearly by the subject, religious or not.
In a similar study that was also conducted by Lindstrom, he questioned if the addiction or love for a person's smart phone was at all similar to more common addictions like drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, food or video games. For the test, eight men and eight women were separated into groups. Each group was then shown either a video of an iPhone ringing and vibrating, or had an audio recording of the ringing and vibrating played back to them with no visuals. In both instances, the viewers attached an image to the sounds, and a sound to the videos. Upon reviewing the results, researchers found that activity spiked in the insular cortex of the brain, which is where all of your “love-related” feelings take place.
If you own an iPhone, or any smartphone for that matter, chances are you've probably felt that familiar vibration in your pants. Only after you take the phone out to see who texted you, the realization sinks in that it was all in your head. This "phantom vibration" is just one of the many symptoms of loving our phones a bit too much. If you keep checking for new emails every few minutes, and habitually take your phone out to see if anyone sent you a new Facebook or text message, it might be time to call an old friend and rekindle that relationship. Human interaction is what makes us human, and by increasing our dependency on digital lives
and online relationships, necessary real life skills will begin to wither.