Help! I've Been Kidnapped by My Apple Watch.
Regular readers will recall that my first date with the Apple Watch did not go smoothly. I was wearing it wrong. The apps were sluggish. The first time I tried to message a friend it crashed.
One week later, I still don’t love it. But I am having feelings. Mostly after small victories.
I felt something when I figured out how to tune Twitter so that I wasn’t bombarded with notifications.
I felt something when, six days later, I managed to add someone to my friends screen.
I felt something when I began to get comfortable with the interface vocabulary — the vertical swipes, the horizontal swipes, the force touch, the digital crown.
“Do not expect to strap on Apple Watch for the first time and feel entirely at home,” says Daring Fireball’s John Gruber in Watch, Apple Watch, an essay that makes a useful distinction between needing a wireless computer on your wrist and wanting one.
This is a device that demands exploration. It needs to be mastered. It needs to be fine-tuned to fit your digital lifestyle.
And when it does, when Apple’s “most personal” device starts to feel at home, you can’t help bonding with it.
I’m reminded of the way people who mastered a complex piece of pre-WYSIWYG software — the typists who memorized WordPerfect’s obscure keystroke combinations, for example — clung to it until their cold dead fingers had to be pried off the keyboard.
I’ve searched for a term to describe this phenomenon, and I think I’ve found it: Stockholm syndrome. Here’s how Wikipedia, borrowing from an FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, defines it.
Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychologicalphenomenon in which hostages expressempathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.
Mistaking a lack of abuse for an act of kindness. That’s me and my Apple Watch, one week later.
Philip Elmer-DeWitt is a writer and editor.