The Macalope Daily: Et tu, New York Times?

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Seriously, New York Times? Maybe the Macalope was being naive, but he expected more from you than Martin Lindstrom’s “You Love Your iPhone. Literally.” (Tip o’ the antlers to T.J. Luoma of TUAW and Anne Stickley Michel via email.)

With Apple widely expected to release its iPhone 5 on Tuesday, Apple addicts across the world are getting ready for their latest fix.

Hey! It’s a new twist! We’re not religious nuts, we’re drug addicts!

As a branding consultant…

Those who can’t do, brand. Those who can’t brand, consult on branding.

A few years back, I conducted an experiment to examine the similarities between some of the world’s strongest brands and the world’s greatest religions. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) tests…

Oh, wait, we are religious nuts. Or maybe we’re both. It’s probably both.

…my team looked at subjects’ brain activity as they viewed consumer images involving brands like Apple and Harley-Davidson and religious images like rosary beads and a photo of the pope. We found that the brain activity was uncannily similar when viewing both types of imagery.

Wait, we saw this show. When it was on the BBC. Ugh, the Macalope hates remakes of British shows. Particularly when the original was really bad in the first place.

This past summer, I gathered a group of 20 babies between the ages of 14 and 20 months. I handed each one a BlackBerry.

You’re weird. And what parents would loan out their baby to this hack for an afternoon?

No sooner had the babies grasped the phones than they swiped their little fingers across the screens as if they were iPhones, seemingly expecting the screens to come to life. It appears that a whole new generation is being primed to navigate the world of electronics in a ritualized, Apple-approved way.

Wait… 20 babies is a representative sample of “a whole new generation”? Since when? Also, what is so insidious about the fact that touch interfaces are simply easier to learn? We’re supposed to be afraid of that or something?

Friends who have accidentally left home without their iPhones tell me they feel stressed-out, cut off and somehow un-whole. That sounds a lot like separation anxiety to me.

“Friends have told me they enjoy drinking beer. That sounds a lot like alcoholism to me.”

Similar to pressing an elevator button repeatedly in the belief that the elevator will descend sooner, we check our phones for emails and texts countless times a day, almost as if we can will others to text, call, email or Skype us.

Uh, actually, those two things aren’t similar at all. People check their phones because they may actually have gotten a message. An event, receiving a message, can happen at random intervals. The user checks periodically to see if the event has occurred. You could argue people check too often, but that’s still not the same as pushing an elevator button repeatedly to make the elevator come faster, because that does absolutely nothing. Unless you count driving the other people waiting for the elevator crazy.

Do you know anything at all about logic, or science, or similes? Because it seems like all you’ve done is collect a pile of anecdotes and make exaggerated claims about them.

Earlier this year, I carried out an fMRI experiment to find out whether iPhones were really, truly addictive, no less so than alcohol, cocaine, shopping or video games. In conjunction with the San Diego-based firm MindSign Neuromarketing, I enlisted eight men and eight women between the ages of 18 and 25.

Sixteen people? Well, that’s surely indicative of the entire human race. It doesn’t get any more sciencey than that.

The subjects’ brains responded to the sound of their phones as they would respond to the presence or proximity of a girlfriend, boyfriend or family member.

In short, the subjects didn’t demonstrate the classic brain-based signs of addiction. Instead, they loved their iPhones.

Or, maybe they liked them. In other words, maybe they responded the same way they would to a favorite TV show or being offered a nice beverage. Or, maybe they responded that way because when they turn to their phones it’s often to get a message or see a status update or Instagram picture from a girlfriend, boyfriend, or family member.

As we embrace new technology that does everything but kiss us on the mouth, we risk cutting ourselves off from human interaction.

Oh, for God’s sake, what an unbelievable crock.

My best advice? Shut off your iPhone, order some good Champagne and find love and compassion the old-fashioned way.

That’s terrific advice, Martin. The Macalope will be sure to tell it to all the couples he knows who’ve met on Twitter. To all the people stuck in a hospital waiting room who got support from their friends on Facebook. Sure, sometimes we let technology cut us off from human interaction. But other times it brings that interaction to us when we otherwise wouldn’t have it. Your recycled arguments against television, radio, books, scrolls, and stone tablets just don’t work here.

Martin Lindstrom is the author of “Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy.”

Not only does Martin pimp his book at the end, he also sent out a press release about the Times article to certain Apple websites. Gosh, Martin, it’s almost like you’re trying to brandwash us to your ideas in order to try to get us to buy your book.

The Macalope’s best advice? Instead of reading Martin’s book, FaceTime a friend or family member.

[Editors’ Note: In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

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