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The OMG iPhone Greeting

Added: 02-01-2016

Latin Name: Greetus Digitus Inattentus

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OMG iPhone Greeting

The OMG iPhone Greeting

This is a greeting in which the greeter attempts to greet one who is utterly, totally, completely and intensely adsorbed in an iPhone. In an affront to one’s good manners, this greeting may go unreciprocated. Or, the greeted may be sufficiently surprised so as to look up and exclaim, as if blameless: “Eeh?” Your response: OMG iPhone! You think to yourself: at least your friend didn’t walk off cliff or run a train off the tracks… this time!

Let’s explore. Psychologically-speaking, we have a fun combination of the addictive qualities of devices and media, coupled with the detrimental impacts of multi-tasking. At the very least. Let’s poke a bit at distraction.

No matter how many digital things we surround ourselves with, humans have biological limits that researchers trying to understand. Attention is finite. Just et al (2008) coaxed research subjects into an MRI to understand how their brains handled distraction while driving in a simulator. How’d they fare?

OMG predictably! Driving quality suffered. They wrote that “we interpret this diversion of attention as reflecting a capacity limit on the amount of attention or resources that can be distributed across the two tasks. This capacity limit might be thought of as a biological constraint that limits the amount of systematic neural activity that can be distributed across parts of the cortex.” (p. 6)

While we’re talking about this article, one aspect of academic writing that I love is the use of “may”. Here, we can see an example (emphasis added):

“it may be dangerous to mindlessly combine the special human capability of processing spoken language with a more recent skill of controlling a large powerful vehicle that is moving rapidly among other objects.” (p.6)


So… Where does this leave us? Look, when you may want a good conversation, leave that mobile phone behind – in your bag, or if you really want to be sure about it, you may pop it into the friendly blender.

p.s. For a fun experiment, evaluate performance on the Interactive Stroop Effect test.

Just MA, Keller TA, Cynkar J. A Decrease in Brain Activation Associated with Driving When Listening to Someone Speak. Brain research. 2008;1205:70-80. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2007.12.075. Available online.