Feature

We love our iPhones—literally

Friends tell me they feel “stressed out” and “somehow un-whole” without their iPhones, said Martin Lindstrom at The New York Times.

Martin Lindstrom
The New York Times

When people say they “love” their iPhones, said Martin Lindstrom, they’re not using a figure of speech. The smartphones now reshaping human consciousness not only provide a constant stream of rewarding texts, e-mails, tweets, and other communications, but have also become something akin to “a best friend, partner, lifeline, companion.” Friends tell me they feel “stressed out” and “somehow un-whole” without their iPhones.

To find out why, I recently conducted an experiment on 16 people, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). When the subjects heard or saw their iPhones ringing, their brain scans displayed not the classic signs of addiction but a firing of neurons “in the insular cortex of the brain, which is associated with feelings of love and compassion.” It was as if they were in the presence of a “girlfriend, boyfriend, or family member.” These people actually “loved their iPhones.”

Beware: We may think we’re enjoying a romantic dinner with the ones we love, but the real rival for our affections “lies in wait inside our pockets and purses.”

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