Sunday, April 1, 2012

Are You Your iPod?

Are you your iPod? Or iPad? Or Droid? Or any device for that matter. Last week I attended a lecture that posed this very question. And here are some things to consider.

We are led to believe that our mobile devices are customizable. We can choose creative skins for it, blinking it out. We can move apps around on it, placing them where we like; even creating folders to store similar apps. We can choose which apps. To download. Making the device completely ours, an extension of ourselves, or identity. But is it really customizable?

There are some apps on my Droid that I just don't want, and can't delete no matter how hard I try. Verizon won't let me. The same is true for my iPad. And what about widgets? My Droid affords me the opportunity of including widgets on my screens, but some of them take up are formatted in such a way that there isn't enough room for more than one widget on a screen. Making it difficult to customize it the way I want. Plus I only have a limited number of screens.

The apps on my iPad don't afford me the same opportunity of widgets, making it easier to use the app. Or the false notion of turning off notifications only to discover that it still pops up unwanted notification numbers. Do we really have control over which apps we download? Or are we continuing to be manipulated by slick marketing? Selling us a product through color and image, continuing to build on the stereotypes of the sexes. Think about it, when you are in the app store, are there some apps that seem to be targeted for men and others specifically for women?

What do you use your devices for? I update twitter feeds, Facebook statuses, add to pinterest boards, blog, and more from my devices. I create content to share others. I make videos and screencasts for students on my iPad; making it an extension of my professional life. My iPad and droid become extensions of who I am, sharing with the world snippets of my identity with each tap. I find that I have one or both by me at all times, in case I am driven to tweet, blog, or pin. Thus, making them literally an extension of my body, clasped under my arm or bulging from my hip or rear pocket as if I have some unusual tumor on my body. Speaking of which...what about earbuds? are they permanently tucked into your ear; making your device literally one with your body?

As free people we have to ask ourselves. Are we really free to make our own decisions? Or is it only an illusion of freedom? We think we have complete control over our devices, molding it into what we want it to be. Or are our devices and their corporations molding us; making us the consumers they want us to be. Making us a nation of smart zombies blindly walking the world with a focused attention on our devices only and not the humans around us? Leaving us disconnected from everyone and everything else except for our iPad or smartphone, with a virtual IV to the vein.