Reality on Reality’s Terms

Apple announced Apple Vision Pro and visionOS at WWDC earlier this month. They are positioning it as an augmented reality (AR) instead of a virtual reality (VR) device. It could change the bond between our digital and physical worlds as much as the iPhone did in 2007. Imagine not needing a television or a display for your workstation anymore. Imagine the possibilities of a device like this if you work in a loud office with an open, collaborative floor plan. I’m unsure where else AR devices like Apple Vision Pro will fit into my life, but I know they will change and strengthen that bond in ways we haven’t considered.

It’s interesting to think about our relationship with technology. I recently sat behind another driver in a left-turn lane at a busy intersection. He missed the green arrow while using his phone. I didn’t honk. Once he realized he’d sat through the light, panic set in. He bumbled into the intersection, stopping oncoming traffic and nearly causing an accident or worse.

Words like emergency and crisis are overused, but this was the behavior of a person in distress. Maybe he had received notice that his partner or child had been hurt. Perhaps he’d learned he got a promotion that required him to move to a different city. Either situation is worthy of attention. It isn’t fair to speculate beyond that.

We’re all sitting through more stoplights because of phone misuse, but the bond between the digital and physical isn’t all negative. My iPhone enhances or directly enables some of the most important things I do. The ability to access the world’s collective knowledge at a moment’s notice is a miracle we take for granted. But watching that driver made me reflect on my device usage and the bond between my digital and physical worlds.

The digital world is addictive; for me, it’s listening to stuff. Stuff could be podcasts, audiobooks, music, or even white noise, though I prefer brown noise. If I’m doing the dishes or cutting the grass, it feels like an emergency if my AirPods run out of battery. Leaving them behind in a hotel room and not realizing until I’m on an airplane and can’t buy another pair in the terminal, crisis.

AirPods state Bond Perceived threat level
Battery dead Stressed Emergency
Lost Broken Crisis

Seeing these feelings in a table puts things into perspective.

Everyone has a unique relationship with devices and technology. Relationships require maintenance and occasional renegotiation. Mindful use will pay dividends as our devices become more engaging. Renegotiation is always easier from a position of strength. I’m trying to listen to stuff more intentionally. It isn’t easy.

June 23, 2023