Cyberclinic

I've known people turn cars around 10 miles into a journey to go back home and retrieve their phones – the most surprising thing being that it took me 10 whole miles to realise that I'd left the thing behind. Couples in restaurants will prod and swipe at their screens rather than talk to each other – a terrible state of affairs, but what can I say? Maybe it's a case of: "We hadn't been getting on very well for a few months, and the phone just seemed more interesting."

When gadget lust is combined with an increasing dependence on staying connected with friends, the resulting emotional bond between us and our all-singing, all-dancing smartphones can hover somewhere between devotion and obsession.

If you've ever seen the hollow eyes and pained expression of someone denied access to their iPhone, you'll know what I mean.

We have a history of showing affection towards the unlikeliest of things – tortoises, VW Beetles, tamagotchis – all of which offer very little in return for our love. Of course, Apple is aware of this one-way outpouring of emotion more than most companies, with its products almost screaming out to be handled, caressed and lovingly stroked. Its skill at designing things that we coo over as excitedly as we do new-born babies is also behind much of the fan-boy (more commonly spelled "fanboi") mentality that you often encounter online, where even the mildest criticism of Apple's products is met with impassioned shrieks of indignance from the devotees. It's as if you'd besmirched their religion or insulted their mother.

A Danish marketing company, Strand Consult, released a report last week which you could either see as a cultural analysis of this blind devotion to the iPhone, or maybe just a way of stoking up a bit more aggravation among the very people they're criticising.

Referring to "iPhone syndrome", they compare it to Stockholm syndrome – where hostages develop sympathy for their captors – by citing the way people "defend the product, despite the shortcomings and limitations of both past and present versions of the iPhone". Slavish loyalty is never particularly attractive, of course, but it's not as if Apple have chained iPhone customers to a radiator. They've just succeeded in making a product that people feel strangely attached to, to the extent that they buy iPhone cufflinks, iPhone earrings, bake iPhone cakes or get iPhone tattoos.

As obsessions go, it's pretty benign. Especially when you consider that, unlike with humans, when a smartphone dies on you or disappears from your life you can always pick up another one for a few quid on eBay.

Email any technology gripes to cyberclinic@independent.co.uk

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