iAnxiety; Apple, misery and the new class divide

texting blackberry mobileTherapy. You need to climb aboard that bandwagon, because all the indicators show that there has never been a greater demand for therapy. Did you know there is a worldwide increase in anxiety?

Someone, somewhere is going to make a lot of money helping people deal with it. And it may as well be me, because I know what’s behind this anxiety epidemic, and I also have a cure, which I’m about to share with you now. So read on and save yourself a fortune.

Cast your mind back to those dim and distant days when you had a Blackberry. (You can remember back that far, can’t you?) I remember when I had one. At the time I rather liked it. In fact I was convinced I’d never go the iPhone route because you so need a keyboard with buttons on it to type stuff into a phone don’t you?

Life was simpler and more pleasant then. The Blackberry was an ugly black button box that represented ‘work’ and, just like my work computer, would be turned off at the end of the working day. Turning on the computer, and the Blackberry, signaled the start of the working day.

In between, crucially, was an entire world of existence called ‘my private life’. The part of life where you don’t do Work things; in fact you don’t even think about doing Work things. As any good therapist would suggest, I’d invite you to draw a picture of this world. Is it full of puppies, flowers, happy children, friends sharing a joke over dinner, knitted pullovers…? I thought so.

But now the picture is black. Jagged edges, screaming. Yes it does in fact look like The Scream and I am not alone, because statistically we are all starting to feel like Edvard Munch.

Thanks Apple. It’s YOUR fault. You and your iPhone. I got tempted, I admit it, I turned away from the Blackberry for the telephone crack that is the iPhone. I never returned. I sold my soul and more importantly I lost my private life. I now have no mechanism with which to turn off Work. Work and Life are inextricably linked, and the result is iAnxiety – anxiety 24/7.

I was at a function the other day, and sat next to a woman who is the MD of a Design Agency. This particular function is famously ‘social’, possibly the one day in the year when people like us mentally and technologically switch off from Work for an entire Friday afternoon. But not if you’ve got an iPhone, as she was at pains to point out. She’d accidentally seen a work-related issue while checking to see if her daughter’s child minder had turned up. Now she was anxious about whether her colleagues were ‘on it’…

At this point we agreed that before the iPhone, our work and non-work lives could be separated, but post-iPhone this is no longer possible. So long as your iPhone is on, every dimension of your life is also on. Welcome to the world of never not being at work. Remember when ignorance was bliss? Just an hour or two of ignorance would be a rare treat, never mind an entire evening.

The solution is to use the iPhone for all things ‘smart’, but get another much more basic phone to use as, well, a phone. A Nokia 105 for example. Thus retaining the ability to reach out to the outside world, should you really need to. Like you used to do with the Blackberry.

But there’s one more undesirable effect caused by the iPhone. There are plenty of people who will have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, do not suffer from iAnxiety, and cannot even imagine why anyone would.

What’s happened is that having erased a once highly-valued line of demarcation between work and private life, the iPhone has created a line of demarcation between the people who do jobs like ours (where you’re in contact with the job, clients and colleagues pretty much non stop), and the rest.

So the iPhone has created a new class structure. The new class divide is between the owners of smart, and non-smart phones. A new generation of people who either have an iPhone, or have a private life.

My name is Shaun Varga. I am an iPhone user. I want my private life back.