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The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) wrapped up today, but just prior to the start of the highly covered conference Apple released a video entitled “APOCALYPSE.” This video depicts a world where a clumsy new employee shuts down all apps for everyone. And shit gets a little wild.
This video had a good amount of laughs, emphasizing the importance of apps in our daily lives. The main point was to encourage developers to keep creating apps. “Keep making apps. The world is depending on you,” was the call to action, so to speak, that popped up at the end of the video. Rather dramatic, but the video makes a good point. These things absolutely and completely run our lives. I use my Google maps almost constantly. I’m too lazy to go to the bank to deposit my checks, but luckily I can just do that through the banking app on my phone. Remember when elementary school teachers told you that you wouldn’t be able to carry a calculator around everywhere? Well they were wrong, and I’d rather not work out how much I should tip my server using a paper napkin as my scratch paper.
Not only are we reliant on our apps and smartphones, we’re also addicted. They call it brain hacking. Our smartphones and the apps associated are a slot machine of sorts. Former Google product manager, Tristan Harris told Anderson Cooper in a 60 Minutes interview that:
This thing is a slot machine. […] [E]very time I check my phone, I’m playing the slot machine to see, “What did I get?” This is one way to hijack people’s minds and create a habit, to form a habit. What you do is you make it so when someone pulls a lever, sometimes they get a reward, an exciting reward. And it turns out that this design technique can be embedded inside of all these products.
So what’s the reward? A new message, a new like on Facebook, swipe on Tinder, any kind of notification. It’s so intense that Steve Jobs didn’t allow his daughters to get iPads even though they were flying off the shelves. He wasn’t the only techy in Silicon Valley to keep the devices he helped create from his kids. Others did, and still do, simply because they know how addictive these things can be.
Not to bash the technology we’re lucky enough to have, but that video prompted some thinking. Just what would the world be like if we didn’t have our apps? I mean, we lived without them before, right? Surely we’d be okay. That’s the thing about the future though. We can’t go back. Can’t revert. Even if someone made a time machine app, our reliance and obsession with apps isn’t going to just disappear. And if it was all taken away suddenly, chaos would surely reign.
Watch this short film that’s centered around the theme of tech addiction.