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Nina In New York: Is Your iPhone Making You iDumb?

A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.

By Nina Pajak

It has already happened. I have been an iPhone user for roughly one week, and half my brain (at least, half of the working part of my brain) has leaked out of my ear and rolled into some sewer somewhere.

More: NYC's 7 Best iPhone Apps For Foodies

I'm incapable of holding a conversation. It doesn't help that I still haven't figured the thing out completely, so it beeps and boops and vibrates and dings at me at unpredictable times for inexplicable reasons. Like:


Okay, iPhone. I will attend to this matter promptly and with my undivided attention.

Nina Pajak on cell phone
Our Nina Pajak on her Blackberry, before making the switch. (credit: Marta Zielinska,

I've realized that my lack of iPhone was holding other people back from doing what they really wanted to do, which was check their iPhones during meals and interactions with me. Previously too polite to do so (at least as frequently as they would have liked), now that I've joined the pack, I realize we're all doing it. At lunch the other day, my coworker and I continually cut ourselves off mid-sentence to investigate some flashing or buzzing of our phones. Last weekend, my sister-in-law and I sat side-by-side on the couch playing Scramble with Friends with each other, too focused on our word game to exchange any actual spoken words.

More From Nina: Would You Give Up Sex To Keep Your iPhone?

My brother, a holdout on even the most rudimentary of smartphones, recently lamented during dinner that he no longer has meals with friends. "I think I'm having dinner with a friend," he said, "but really he's having dinner with his iPhone, and I'm eating alone."

"Huh?" I said, briefly looking up from my app store screen. "Sorry, I couldn't hear you. iPhone mumblemumble."

When I close my eyes, little yellow letters swirl before my eyes in random patterns, begging me to unscramble them, with our without friends. These, Rays, Yes, Es, Tease, Tilt, Slit, Silt, Says—that's as far as I get. I'm not very good yet. It's a spacial thing.

I also understand why everyone walks in the manner of blind, deaf, drunken buffoons. I, too, am a blind, deaf, drunken buffoon as I attempt to tap out a simple phrase while in transit. Usually it comes out looking like this:

Running last I ane Omelet way!

That translates roughly to, "everyone walking behind me on the sidewalk wants to kill me right now, and for good reason." Also, "running late!"

My future looks bleak. Good thing I have such a fun phone to keep me company after it enables me to shed all human relationships. Sweet, sweet iPhone. How did I live this long without you? Those people whose names are lost to me in a misty haze of my previous life were right. I needed you. Only you.


Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I'm always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

The Nina In New York Archives:

The Fourth of July

From Joey Potter To Mrs. Cruise, The Roles Of A Lifetime

iGot One.

Finally, A Purpose For Cats On The Internet

Finally, Traveling In Style

I Scream, You Scream

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