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Jony Ive’s iConcern

Ive’s iConcern

At last week’s New Yorker TechFest conference, superstar Apple designer Jony Ive took the stage.

At some point during the presentation, Ive was offered a softball question about the ways the iPhone has changed the world. Ive’s response was surprising: “Like any tool, you can see there’s wonderful use and then there’s misuse.”

Asked what he meant by “misuse,” Ive responded: “perhaps, constant use.”

The fact that Jony Ive, the guy who designed the iPhone, is worried about the way people engage his creation, emphasizes an important point: there’s something broken about our current relationship with our technology.

Our culture was quick to accept the idea that we’d end up checking these things constantly. We shrug our shoulders and laugh about life in these modern times.

But Ive’s small statement sends a big message: you don’t have to accept this.

(Image by Kempton)


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22 thoughts on “Jony Ive’s iConcern”

  1. The other day, I tried to have a conversation with my college Freshman and Sophomores about their cell phone addiction. I took them through some of the points in the Atlantic Monthly article “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?”. I was met with incredible resistance from my students in the form of anger and aggression. It made me realize that calling smartphones an addiction isn’t just a metaphor: one feature of addiction is denial. And, my students showed that denial in spades — they refused to acknowledge a problem or what constant use was doing to them. Yikes!

    • I’ve also heard from a lot of readers that when they stop using social media, friends and family get really mad at them…not because they’re now harder to reach, but because it provides an unwanted emperor has no clothes moment for themselves…

      • I am a undergraduate that recently deleted all my social media accounts. Most the responses I get is others wishing they could do the same, as if they knew something is wrong with their social media use. I have been pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to create better connections (scheduling a lunch instead of wasting time online) and rarely missing cool events on campus without Facebook. Its such a shame that our generation assumes they’re more connected and have better connections than generations of past. Recently I read in former Surgeon General Murthy’s article in the Harvard Business Review that rates of isolation have rose to over 40% since the 1980s and very few people report having a close friend that they can show true feels to. Been writing more letters and emphasizing in person interactions. Though I still surf online too much!

    • Perhaps the anger that you see in your students stems from the perceived attack on them. By accusing young people of being addicted to smartphones, you indirectly accuse them of laziness and a lack of motivation. It is easy to see why your students reacted with hostility; it is a defense mechanism. It might be easier to spark change in their behavior when you speak to the effects of smartphone addiction, rather than making accusations that can easily provoke anger. Not that I disagree with you, but honey catches more flies than vinegar.

  2. Today I met four young people (20-ish+) who do not have a social media presence, and have basic cell phones only for phoning. They have grown up watching their parents become dependent on, or perhaps addicted to, their smartphones and social media, and they have deliberately decided to avoid them. Hope for the future, perhaps, as more youngsters notice their parents deteriorating?

  3. I find it funny that so many people who are billionaires wear t-shirts to work. There’s a psychological explanation, I’m just afraid to know what that is…..

    • If you don’t feel the need to impress anyone, you just dress comfortably. Billionaires have less reason to impress people than the average person.

  4. This concern is interesting as Steve Jobs wouldn’t allow his kids to use an iPad although he was the creator of it… Steve Jobs was already aware of this issue even when creating the iPad…

  5. Ives Quote: Asked what he meant by “misuse,” Ive responded: “perhaps, constant use.”

    If that’s true, then why did Ives & Co. develop the Apple Watch? It’s primary use is constant use. You use it to check whatever obsesses you without the bother of pulling an iPhone out of your pocket.

    Artists tend to be like that. Their logic comes up lacking with it clashes with their artistic vanity. They feign concern about causes they do nothing about. You’re seeing that in crystal clarity with Hollywood’s decades-old coverup of sexual predator Harvey Weinstein.

    If Apple really cares about the harmful effects of their devices, they need to do something about them. Even the tobacco companies began to put filters on their cigarettes in the 1950s.

  6. It’s interesting, but my perspective about Jony is that he would understand this intuitively, as he’s obviously of the sort that believes in Deep Work to make products that delight millions. I would be shocked to find out he actually engages social media at all, or little else outside his own work. He might be a father of the Apple revolution, but you can tell he’s a craftsman at heart.

  7. Hi, Cal. Have you watched the documentary “Offline is the new luxury”? It is quite interesting. I found the interviews with Sherry Turkle and with Aram Pachyan very inspiring. Thanks for the post,

  8. Cal, I appreciate a lot of the stuff you write highlighting some of the downsides of tech, that even enthusiasts like me can get caught up in. I’ve written a Medium article about it, I’d be curious to hear if anecdotally your readers have found that people in their circles are starting to self-regulate their smartphone use? I’m finding more and more people are removing apps like facebook, installing content blockers etc. But I’d like to gather data to establish how widespread this trend is.


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