Who Needs a Relationship? I've Got an iPhone

By , Columnist
"Doctor, I've got a problem. I think my iPhone is cheating on me."

And so it goes. I love the iPhone, but so does everybody else. Millions upon millions of everybody elses. "But it's an object," the doctor responded.

"I know," I said, "but I can't live without it."

Neither can a lot of the rest of the world. iPhones, or whatever smartphone happens to be the flavor of the moment, are not only taking over the world, they're taking over our attention spans - even in the darkest corners of the globe. 

I saw this in Africa last year, where the computer penetration could be as low as 10%, the cell phone penetration could be as high as 90%. Even people who don't have much of a proper home have a phone, and boy do they love em'. It's liberation and status and communication and education for the masses, even if your choice of education is the newest 50 Cent video.

In Mali at night I would watch four men on the street in front of our house on small wooden seats with a wooden table in the mud, all with their heads nodded down, peering into their mobiles - not talking at all, just jamming and tweeting.

Here in Vietnam it's no different. Walk into any club on any night, even one with live music, and you'll see a fair portion of the crowd just poking at their phones. In a country with 90 million people, there are over 120 million registered mobile numbers - a much higher penetration than the US. In fact Asia and the EU both dwarf America in cell phone account penetration.

I was talking with a businesswoman a few weeks ago and she was lamenting that she spends 60+ hours at work each week, and then there's the mobile once the office is left behind. "You know, you just have to turn that thing off every once in a while," I said to her. She looked at me like I was crazy.

Meanwhile, people in bars and restaurants don't talk to each other. People in cabs don't look at what's outside. Couples don't communicate with each other (maybe because they don't want to anyway), but they communicate with others on phones, or just FB and tweet. Smartphones don't demand, don't complain and don't ask you to do 'honey-dos' on the weekend. You can even kiss em'. Who needs a relationship? I've got an iPhone.

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David has spent most of his career in advertising. That alone should call his writing skills into question. David currently writes the Wild Wild East Dailies from Saigon but has trouble seeing the forest for the trees because it's a jungle out there.

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