Last night, as I sat watching the 86th Academy Awards, I couldn’t stop thinking about the social patient – in this case the EXTREME social patient, namely the main character of the film Her, which was nominated for best picture.
In the course of the film, a lonely, newly-divorced writer named Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) decides to buy an advanced and, ahem, responsive operating system (given voice by the sultry Scarlett Johanssen).
As he interacts with “her,” she begins to form her own identity. She is a constant presence in his life, endlessly shaped by his wants, needs and fantasies . . . until she becomes, sort of, the perfect “woman” for him.
While I personally find the notion of falling in love with an operating system a little creepy (sorry Scarlett), this movie taps into something that is quite real and very immediate:
People love their technology. And they love it a lot. And I really mean it when I use that word LOVE.
In one study, reported on in the New York Times, researchers investigated the response
of people to their I-phones. The result?
To quote the study’s author, Martin Lindstrom, “The subjects’ brains responded to the sound of their I-phones as they would respond to the presence or proximity of a girlfriend, boyfriend or family member . . . In short . . . they loved their iPhones.”
Did you hear that? They LOVED their I-Phones, and not just in some offhand way, like loving a sweater or a favorite pair of earrings. They loved their I-Phones like a PERSON, or at least that’s the story their brain waves told.
Maybe the movie Her isn’t too far off track . . .
Now consider this study, out of the United Kingdom:
According to the London Telegraph, one in eight single men would prefer a new iPhone to a new girlfriend. Three percent of men with partners reported they would be willing to ditch their partners to get an I-Phone 5.
And Suri doesn’t even have the sultry voice of Scarlett Johanssen.