I Am Not A Smartphone

I blame the iPhone.

The iPhone is at the peak of the techno/design pyramid, which is an enormous pile of man-made goods that began accumulating with mass-produced buttons in the English midlands 250 years ago. Along the way we added shoes, guns, lights, Model-T Fords, washing machines and air-conditioners, and now the whole lot is capped with the smartphone. This is the history of the industrial revolution and consumerism.

And what, you might ask, does this have to do with dating? Fair question, Hortense, and the answer’s pretty simple: quality. The stuff we buy today is enormously durable, well-designed, thoughtfully manufactured and aesthetically pleasing. Everything from automobiles to bed-sheets are of a quality unimaginable even fifty years ago, which is the problem.

Perfection is the problem. Although we’re not there yet, we’re closing in on making universally flawless things, stuff that works right out of the box, machines that are intuitive, long-lasting and work with each other. Yes, there’s still a lot of junk around, but that’s because perfection costs, and folks will compromise quality if they don’t have enough dosh.

People, however, are just the same as we were 250 years ago.  We are not user-friendly. We’re all quirky; none of us exactly fits the technical description; few of us are consistent throughout a day, let alone a lifetime, and even fewer come within hundreds of miles of perfection.

That’s the iPhone dilemma. When we use an iPhone we (reasonably) expect consistently high technical and emotional feedback. When we are with people, that expectation leaks into our thinking, with predictable results.