the tale of the iphone and stranger danger

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I’m on the tardy side with my posts of late due to a wild work schedule last week and a road trip this one. My time at the office last week consisted of cramming five days of work into three, packing my desk before I move to a new floor in the building and then traveling to New York for a Best Buy marketing event. All-in-all the lesson that I am learning is that I need to be proactive in planning out my calendar of blog posts.

I mentioned my trip to New York. The last couple of years, my department has held an event in Manhattan that helps our annual planning process.

Following the event last week, I went out for dinner and drinks with colleagues. Part of the time we were talking shop and part of it we were just catching up, and as it seems anytime now when you are sitting down in a meeting or at a meal, everyone placed their smart phones on the table. Blackberry’s, Android devices and iPhones were strewn all about.  It was at the bar where we were hanging out when I had my first experience with what I’ll call “iPhone Stranger Danger.”

Before I go into this any further, I feel like I need to give a little background information. Prior to this summer, I was stuck with a clunky windows-based smart phone.  It even sported a stylus that made me the butt of a lot of jokes.  I could read and respond to work e-mail on the device but surfing the web or running an app was out of the question.  The phone was pretty much just a functional device for me; I didn’t feel much attachment to it. Then this summer I was able to upgrade and get an iPhone. Now until lately I haven’t considered myself an “iPhone person” that is always checking my device but I can definitely see how that happens. (And it might even be happening to me bit by bit.)  They can do pretty amazing things. Ok, back to the story.

When my colleagues and I were at the bar, we were seated near a couple that we did not know.  At one point in the conversation one person from the couple asked to borrow my iPhone so she could scan a QR code that was on a flier in the bar. It was at this moment I had my moment of panic. Could I lend my iPhone to someone that I didn’t know? Would she bring it back? Could I trust her?  She must have seen the look of concern on my face because she was sure to say that she would return it.

At that moment I felt silly about how I reacted.  Partly I was caught off guard and not sure what to do, and partly I realized how amazing it is that a product like that can create such a visceral reaction. My iPhone has become so much more than a smart phone. It’s chock full of important information and I use it for personal means just as much as work. It’s the one consumer electronic product to which I have developed an emotional attachment. (Well, that and my trusty DVR.) E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, SMS texts and Skype are all the ways that I’m staying connected to my friends and family through my smart phone. This isn’t even touching on how I’m using the device for entertainment or other purposes. And all of this is coming from someone who has really been a functionalist at heart when it come to a lot of the things that I purchase.

When thinking about it, it’s like I now value the iPhone as much as my wallet or passport. Would I just hand those important personal items over to someone that I do not know? Likely not.

In the end I did lend the woman my phone. I was antsy and tense for those couple minutes when it was out of my hands. True to her word she did return it and it was at that moment when I could breathe a sigh of relief.

(Photo courtesy of Creative Commons license: Jonathan Caves.)

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