An App Invasion

Maya Eapen

Why can’t we spend a simple journey being present in the moment? Before the 2010’s I remember being perfectly content walking down the road by myself, soaking up the surroundings, replaying discussions with my friends in my head or thinking about the lunch I had waiting for me at home. When did our phones become an extension of our hands? When did instant entertainment replace innocent, futile day dreaming? What’s going on in our minds? To investigate these looming questions, I am documenting how technology slowly takes over an experience as simple as waking up and travelling to my uncle’s house in Brooklyn.

At 7am, the invasion begins.

My “morning routine” has changed dramatically in the last ten years. I no longer wack my alarm clock to silence it’s pounding noise. I stopped drawing open my curtains to check the weather to plan an appropriate outfit. I don’t catch snippets of news headlines from a folded newspaper. I do it all on my tiny, black screen.

I get dressed and head out the door, pulling up Google maps to guide me to the nearest subway.

I slowly notice the rumble of the train beat against the tracks and the eruption of conversation dissolve into a silent murmur. They are drowned out by the sounds of people living their digital lives. I am no exception, I find a seat on the subway, pull out my phone and ofcourse…
refresh! aggressively tap!! violently shake phone!!! airplane mode on airplane mode off!
Umm..but it says I’ve reached?

I used to think that the app invasion was our way of drowning out our thoughts. I thought we plagued our minds with these distractions to escape harsh reality. This changed when I watched a VOX video on the psychology behind app design. It decodes the different techniques employed by UX strategists to make our phones irresistible. Each color, sound and icon is intentionally chosen to suck us in. These design decisions invoke a dopamine high and a consequent addiction to our phones. I might have chosen to color my journey with these apps but did I really choose this? With every refresh, every tap, every toggle, I found myself relinquishing control over to my tiny black screen.

When will the invasion end?

This post discusses the overbearing presence of technology as a way to pacify emotions. It explains that the convenience and versatility of phones keeps children engaged. In the same way, adults have an incessant need to be engaged and occupied to distract them from their thoughts. So, they turn to apps.
This post highlights how our lives are controlled by our phones. We eat what is “instagrammable” and consume only after composing the perfect picture. This is an example of what my post explains. It shows that apps dictate the way we live.