The iPhone killed my creativity by killing my boredom. The iPhone makes it so easy — and so enticing — to reach for my smartphone and do anything other than waste time in some long line, for example, or squander it being bored for even just a few moments. A quick game of Words With Friends, an update to my Facebook Newsfeed, a clever tweet; with smartphone in hand, the possibilities are endless.
By burning through my life's many empty, wasted moments, however, I am probably diminishing my creative potential. As I wrote in an earlier post:
Numerous studies and much accepted wisdom suggest that time spent doing nothing, being bored, is beneficial for sparking and sustaining creativity. With our iPhone in hand - or any smartphone, really - our minds, always engaged, always fixed on that tiny screen, may simply never get bored. And our creativity suffers.
Many readers, including many non-techies, agreed with this idea. Some did not. Others, perhaps acutely aware that having a smartphone always at their side, always available to help kill a few minutes of spare time where previously they were forced to observe the world around them, vowed to resist the incessant urge to always reach for their trusty mobile personal computer.
What about you?
Do you think your smartphone has harmed your creativity? Enhanced it? Or had no discernible impact? Take our poll above and feel free to elaborate on your opinion in comments.
Any Place Any Time
The average user spends more than two hours everyday on their smartphone. Some of that is spent talking with friends, family or colleagues. Some, no doubt, is likely work-related. But, as this recent study reveals, the bulk of our smartphone activity is, well, time-suck: Surfing, reading, playing, watching, tweeting...
In many ways, of course, this reveals the great triumph of the iPhone and its many imitators. We now possess a device that allows us to watch television, surf the web, listen to music, connect with friends, play a game - from any place, at any time. But all these "smartphone moments" are keeping our minds from wandering, preventing us from becoming bored, and keeping our brains fully engaged when they may require calm.
We need to remember that there are benefits to boredom:
Psychologists from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have conducted research into the potential upsides of boredom and found that the time we spend daydreaming could improve our creative ability.
Readers Respond to the Original
The original "The iPhone Killed My Creativity" post spawned many comments. Here are a select few favorites.
For the creative drawback, phones can help spur creativity too. There has never been a better tool for quick iteration of ideas, for instant access to recording and editing ideas, and for collaboration.
You killed your creativity by choosing to always pull out your iPhone when you're bored. It's easy to blame technology, until you realize it's a tool you use and sits there unless you interact with it.
Our mobile digital devices are inherently addictive. In fact, they are designed to be addictive; plus, the tactile and personal nature of them means they "mean" more to us than a desktop computer. So, yes, for some people it is a tool they control. They elect when to pick it up and when to put it down. For others, the tool controls them. No different than cigarettes, booze or gambling. They can only pick it up until it damages their soul.
We are the first generation growing up with this digital appendage as part of our lives. We have very little knowledge about the downside of dividing our attention between digital space and meatspace on a continuous basis.
Our cognition and emotional attention spans are shrinking to a degree that cuts-off any ability to create. We can only consume. Perhaps someone will create an app to counter all this?
SMARTPHONE DESTROYS BOREDOM AND CREATIVITY. OBVIOUS ANSWER: INTERESTING APP THAT MAKE YOU MORE CREATIVE.
If a hot stove is burning your finger, take your finger off the stove.
I've noticed since getting an iPhone, I daydream less, and have to be more intentional about getting lost in my imagination instead of my little screen.
Image of adorable girl and butterfly courtesy of Shutterstock