Because I’m on Twitter now and because I follow a lot of hip, happening, funny media-type people who know what’s going on and tweet cleverly about it all, I felt I was there for all the anticipation leading up to the unveiling of the iPhone 6. I was there for the reaction to the actual unveiling, discussions about the iPhone and iWatch, who was going to get the iPhone, who was ordering it online, who was going to wait in-line for it, and the endless jokes and commentary about the coolness and absurdity of it all.
And my one thought while reading all of it was: I don’t care.
No, I had two thoughts. I don’t care and I don’t get it.
Whenever I think the words “I don’t get it”, I attempt to understand the thing I don’t get anyway.
I get that these gadgets are cool.
I get that the watch is cool.
I get how cool all this coolness is.
I don’t get waiting in line for these cool things. There isn’t anything I would wait in line for. Not voluntarily and not longer than 10 minutes. I also don’t understand why it’s cool to brag about being one of the first to buy or obtain one of these devices. When did bragging become OK?
What I see or feel as a witness to this gadget-frenzy are three things:
1. These devices are now a big part of people’s identities. They are embracing the label “techno-consumer” and acting accordingly;
2. There’s something about these devices that make people feel — excited, part of something, alive;
3. The desire for these objects and the way people behave as they obtain them are a reflection of the way they operate in life.
As I was contemplating all of this, I found an article written by Ane Axford, Business Overwhelm, for highly sensitive business owners. In it, she suggests that
if you are highly sensitive, you will not do well trying to start out with an arbitrary plan that someone else told you to do, comparing your self to what someone else has done, or setting up a plan before you understand why you are doing it. Instead, you can use whatever sensations you are feeling to get more of what you want. It’s all valuable and useful information. Even overwhelm.
Maybe this is how highly sensitive people should operate in life, not just in business. Maybe what works or makes sense for non-HSP doesn’t make sense for us. We don’t get it and it doesn’t get us.
She mentioned The Highly Sensitive Hierarchy of Needs, which is just Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs but instead of starting at the bottom, at the physiological level, HSP start at the top, at the transcendent level.
What does all of this have to do with the iPhone 6? It explains why most people get excited by something like the iPhone 6 and why I don’t.
For most people, the 80% who aren’t highly sensitive, procuring an iPhone is part of satisfying their “safety needs”. It’s how they get to “self-actualize”.
For HSP, or just me, I don’t need things to self-actualize. I’m not motivated by accumulation. I’m motivated by my feelings and by meaning. I think non-HSP and iPhone 6 fans find meaning through material things first. This explains why someone would stand in line for hours.
Axford explained it best on her website*:
(Highly sensitive people) are working on connecting our great vision from above, all the way to grounding it on the earth as a reality. We work on understanding our bodies and boundaries, while hardier folks (the 80% that Maslow’s model fits for) are working on opening up and connecting with something higher.
In other words, the only reason I’d get an iPhone is if it served some higher purpose other than having the coolest things before anyone else. I don’t acquire things or experiences and then somehow fit them into my life. I have a desire or a need and find a way to make it reality.
I believe that part of reason I’ve felt weird, felt like I didn’t belong, and struggled for most of my life is because I’ve been trying to live my life in the 80% way and Axford is right — it doesn’t work for me. I just don’t get it.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the way the 80% operate. I just want to understand it. And myself.
You never know. Maybe someday I’ll get an iPhone or iWatch.**
*January 2015 — Ane Axford has discontinued her site Sensitive and Thriving. If you click the link it will take you to her new site, Sensitive Leadership. I don’t know if the old articles on Sensitive and Thriving will be available on the new site.