Consumers are tethered to their smartphones everyday but what are the culture dynamics at play? In today’s episode of Why Meaning Matters, Erin, Jason and Ujwal put down their smartphones to talk about the myths and changing meaning of cell phones.
Welcome to Why Meaning Matters. A Story Studio Network podcast hosted by Erin Trafford with MotivBase cultural anthropologist, Ujwal Arkalgud and MotivBase president, Jason Partridge.
While MotivBase is studying the meanings around cell phones some would say, ‘What is there to analyze? It seems like everyone has one.’
UJWAL [00:02:13] “I think that's the whole point about studying meaning. The unsexy topics become sexy when you examine what they mean because there's always something that surprises us.”
Health meanings with respect to cell phones is one of those surprises. Consumers have all the health apps on their smartphones but, in contrast, these phones have been cause for unhealthy behaviors as well.
UJWAL [00:03:15] “There's been a lot of lobbying on this. But for the first time we're seeing consumers clearly make that distinction. And the distinction comes through two words, because meaning is all about words and language, and that language is Quality of Life.”
Consumers, while addicted, have come to a level of acceptance that smartphones are a part of who they are.
JASON [00:05:12] “Now I've become this person that has almost become somewhat of a creature that is partially the phone and the phone is part of me. And, that in and of itself is something that I readily accept because it allows me to thrive at so many things that I couldn't thrive at previously.”
Additionally, there is social capital in the narrative around cell phone usage. That is, there is a distinction developing between appropriate and inappropriate usage; an emerging form of cell phone etiquette.
UJWAL [00:07:47] “There's so many little moments now let's call them millions of little micro moments that are happening every day with our cell phones. The point is, do you use it to enhance your quality of life, to solve problems, to be present in the moment, to live a healthier life? Or, do you use it to, actually, to the detriment of your quality of life?”
Equally mind blowing is the distinctions that consumers are making on the role of artificial intelligence (AI), their phones and the roles that the companies producing these devices are playing.
UJWAL [00:11:30] “What's interesting to me again, is the consumer’s making a distinction. The consumer does not want to fake creativity. The consumer wants the technology to help them become more creative. Let me rephrase that. Help me learn to be more creative.”
UJWAL [00:12:58] “And of course there's an entire industry of human centric design that is built around these design principles. How do you design to teach people things? And, so this has already been done in a zillion industries. I think it's just a renewed focus. It's a different way to approach the use of the technology itself.”
In the next episode, our hosts wrap up season two with a conversation about menstrual health and hygiene. Stay tuned for episode twelve, season two finale of Why Meaning Matters.
Why Meaning Matters is a podcast produced by Story Studio Network and iContact Productions for MotivBase- Decoding implicit meaning behind what people talk about.
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