HARVARD HERO MOMENT #15: My Ode to the iPhone

Marc Allenby

20 Dec 2019

The Apple iPhone. A piece of tech that changed my life forever. It’s by my side all day and night. It entertains me on the go and on the loo. It enables friendships and relationships. It even helped me find my future husband! Now, 12 years and a trillion selfies later, our love/hate relationship with the iPhone is still going strong. This little machine’s irreversible impact on the lives of billions has connected and isolated our species like never before. It’s fuelled the rise of the dreaded influencer and created new economies, new cultures, and new ways of doing… well, everything.

At the click of a button

But like everything, the impact off the iPhone isn’t black and white. It’s a technology – a platform. A handheld computer that’s many times better at storing information and calculating data than we are. But until the rise of the Terminators, it’s still a tool, and it’s how we choose to use it that matters. I see it as an extension of my brain: Google on tap. It allows me to position myself in this jungle of a world and to access any information I want, instantly. And I’m someone who remembers the days when you had to go to a library if you wanted to know how many different German sausages exist. (The answer is 1,200 by the way. A quick Wikipedia search on your iPhone will tell you that.)

Introducing the Homo Selfie Stickus

It’s a funny thing. 50,000 years ago, technology was a pointy stick that helped us hunt mammoths. And today, it’s a stick that makes it look like your selfie was taken by someone else. I like to think about it as part of our evolution: we’re no longer homo sapiens, but homo selfie stickus. Technology is a part of us now, as much as my left leg is a part of me. I could do without it, but it would be massively inconvenient. Could Steve ever have imagined the profound, planet-shaking impact that his little device would have on us all? We may never know. But change is change, for better or worse. It’s the one thing we can be certain of. Hero or villain, the iPhone was a revolution on par with fire or the wheel. And since you’re probably reading this on an iPhone right now, you can keep your snark to yourself.