The ‘phone’ part of the iPhone can be very distracting


in Geek stuff, Internet matters, Psychology, Rants

Sometimes, I wish I could uninstall the ‘Phone’ app from my iPhone. It’s amazing to be able to access email and websites from anywhere, without needing to rely on the availability of WiFi. It’s less amazing for people to be able to initiate immediate verbal communication with me at any time of day or night.

Between working as a TA and taking courses, I think it’s pretty difficult for doctoral students in the first couple of years to do much substantive reading and thinking about their thesis topic. In order to counter that, I am trying to do what I can to reduce the number of apparently urgent items popping up in my attention stream.

I wish the iPhone was a bit more granular in terms of which services you can turn off. It’s great that the iPhone has an ‘airplane mode‘ that kills both access to the cellular network and access to WiFi. It’s also great that you can turn on airplane mode with WiFi enabled (for internet access with no phone calls or text messages). I wish you could allow the phone to use the cellular network for email and web browsing but disable it for text messages and phone calls.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

. August 12, 2015 at 11:32 pm

One of the ironies of modern life is that everyone is glued to their phones, but nobody uses them as phones anymore. Not by choice, anyway. Phone calls—you know, where you put the thing up to your ear and speak to someone in real time—are becoming relics of a bygone era, the “phone” part of a smartphone turning vestigial as communication evolves, willingly or not, into data-oriented formats like text messaging and chat apps.

The distaste for telephony is especially acute among Millennials, who have come of age in a world of AIM and texting, then gchat and iMessage, but it’s hardly limited to young people. When asked, people with a distaste for phone calls argue that they are presumptuous and intrusive, especially given alternative methods of contact that don’t make unbidden demands for someone’s undivided attention. In response, some have diagnosed a kind of telephoniphobia among this set. When even initiating phone calls is a problem—and even innocuous ones, like phoning the local Thai place to order takeout—then anxiety rather than habit may be to blame: When asynchronous, textual media like email or WhatsApp allow you to intricately craft every exchange, the improvisational nature of ordinary, live conversation can feel like an unfamiliar burden. Those in power sometimes think that this unease is a defect in need of remediation, while those supposedly afflicted by it say they are actually just fine, thanks very much.

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