Culture At Large

Smartphones and salvation

Nathan Bierma

If you believe, as I do, that smartphones are some of the most powerful idols of our time (my iPod touch is the closest thing I've ever had to a golden calf), then Microsoft's recent smartphone commercial is striking for its salvific rhetoric. After a humorous montage of people whose attention to their smartphones causes a series of slapstick mishaps, the ad proclaims, "It's time for a phone to save us from our phones."

How will Microsoft's phone save us? The end of the ad explains that the phone is so fast that we can resume living real life sooner. A faster phone will mean people will use it less. Do you follow that logic?

The more plausible way for this phone to save us from our phones is that, since it's made by Microsoft, the product will inevitably be so faulty, buggy and unpleasant that people will vow never to use a smartphone again.

In any case, one rule about idols is that you should never trust an idol that says, "Oh those other idols - they're just idols. I'll save you from them."

Confession time: Are you willing to share your own story about the moment you realized your smartphone had crossed over into idol territory? Do you place restrictions on yourself to prevent this from happening? And is this a problem technology itself can solve, as Microsoft suggests, or is it simply a matter of being intentional about powering down?

Topics: Culture At Large, Science & Technology, Technology, Gadgets