Apple has a new iPhone ad that's really an ad for the idea of smartphones.
"Misunderstood" shows a teen who spends all of his family time during the holidays engrossed in his phone. The big reveal at the end is that he's been recording his family, and he has edited a beautiful video of their time together (in-phone, maybe.) Very emotional and tear-jerking!
When I saw Apple's spot, I couldn't help but think of that anti-phone viral video from August, "I Forgot My Phone." "I Forgot My Phone" was a montage of sad, disconnected people choosing their phones over the wonder of their own lives. Apple's ad felt like such a specific answer record to that, it's hard for me to imagine it wasn't inspired by it.
In their way, I think both ads tell half-lies. I mean, yes, it is literally true that your sullen teenager could be secretly making a heartwarming movie about how much he loves his extended family. But as someone who was a sullen, phone-addicted teen , I can report that neither I nor my friends were chronicling our family lives the way Apple's teen does. We were talking to our peers and ignoring our families. Also, playing Snake. The benefit of tuning out, whether you're a teenager stuck with your family or an office-worker on GChat, is that you can trade the conversation in front of you for another conversation you might rather have.
And we've talked about the "I Forgot My Phone" ad before, but I think the central silliness of it's the implication that we don't have a choice regarding that decision to tune out. It depicts us at zombies forced to stare at our screens, missing our actual lives, which are an endless parades of sunsets and crashing waves.
Just to reiterate, neither of these things are very true. Phones are a nice way to fill tedious moments. It's rude to use them to jump into a more interesting conversation than the one you're having, but people sometimes do because people can be rude.
Now all we need to do is broker a peace deal between all the Moms forwarding the "I Forgot My Phone" video and all the tech geeks who are blogging about "Misunderstood." No more phone videos! Peace in the land! Happy holidays!