Emotional Addicts: Get Your Fix by Remixing Your iPhone App Folders

Once I crossed over into technological adulthood and started organizing my iPhone apps, I couldn’t understand those amateurs who just throw apps around without purpose. I’ve re-organized the system a few times as I acquire more and more apps, but it’s become pretty intuitive which apps fall into Tools versus Information, and which apps get the bonus bump up to Social. As I was about to show a friend my sleek setup, he absolutely upstaged me. After reading an article on verb or action-phrased folder names (Play, Listen, Look Up) versus function-based (Productivity, Social Media) he was inspired to change his folder names to something a bit more intuitive. Games are found in a folder called “Weeeee,” utilities that don’t give him a huge reaction like Calculator or Reminders go in “Meh” (incidentally his largest folder which has yielded also: Meh Vol. 2) Viewing apps like HBO Go and Hulu are labeled “Ahh,” and my personal favorite, social tools like Facebook and Twitter in “Ooh.”

If I categorize my apps this way, I’m literally attaching an emotional response to the software associated with those feelings. The apps on the screen are clustered according to their potential to elicit a mental response. So every time I want that “Ooh” feeling of social connection or digital gazing, my thumb gravitates to that folder. As my muscle memory takes over, I’ll find my physical self navigating to the Ooh folder when I subconsciously want to feel social warmth. If I find another app, a new social tool (say: Instagram) that has that same power, I’ll put it in the Ooh folder. When I’m craving more “Ooh,” I’ll click it again, having not just a new app easily accessible, but a familiar feeling. As this association goes deeper, we become stage 5 clingers to our phones (and in general, technology.) It begins to sound like an addiction doesn’t it? Of course, that’s what happens when we begin to associate our internal emotions with anything external.

We can try to technologically detox. We can give up Facebook for lent, vow to check our e-mail only 3 times a day, and limit mindless trips without direction into the interwebs. We can try. And some will succeed. But the real question is what will grow faster: our willpower? Or the attractiveness of our technologies.