Something tells me that a little piece of the real Tim Cook dies each time he puts on an oversized button down shirt and dark jeans. The same goes for Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi. You may not know them by name, but you can always recognize the uniform. They represent the inherent dichotomy and mystical power of the Apple brand—a company conceived in the counterculture of the 1970s with the mantra of “Think different.” Unfortunately, like all good things of the 1970s, this vision has died a cruel and unusual death. Slowly, “Think different” has transformed into “Think disconnected.” With Apple, we have witnessed the creation of a human drone factory marketed with ideals of individuality. And if you can understand the previous sentence, let it be known, you are the resistance.
Now, let’s talk about hypocrisy. I write this using iWork’s on a MacBook Pro, which was gladly purchased for an ungodly sum of money. I have an iPad, an iPhone, an iPod, all within an arm’s reach of me at this very moment. Yet I insist—I am not a hypocrite. I am aware and I am conscious. I refuse to partake in drone-like behavior, but I will never stop using Apple products. I believe they are the best of technology. I also believe they are the worst. I know this because I have lain in bed at all hours of the day with my wife beside me. Instead of reaching for her, I reach for my iDevice. I know this because I have answered my iPhone while reading a book…the kind made of paper. I have wasted countless hours searching YouTube and Facebook. I have sold my soul to the AppStore and my body to Apple Health.
And while I realize that Apple is not alone, there was never really a choice. How many HP laptops have you seen in Starbucks? When was the last time you visited the Microsoft Store? When was the last time you even saw a Microsoft Store? Does your mother know what Android is? Does your grandfather know what an iPad is? To say that we have a choice is like saying that McDonald’s and Saladworks are on a level playing field. Trust me, Saladworks does exist.
So what’s wrong with feeding at the trough of Silicon Valley? The problem is that we no longer know when we’re hungry. Our appetite is piqued by planned obsolescence, a method of predetermined uselessness, in which companies create products designed to fail just in time for a new release. Companies, such as Apple, which pride themselves on environmental friendliness, have promoted a culture of disposability and material waste. In short, we’re hungry when Papa Alto says we’re hungry and we’re craving whatever mystery meat he wants to serve us (enter HomePod).
Ten years ago this Thursday, the first iPhone was unveiled to the “Oohhs” and “Aahhs” of a bewildered crowd. At the time, the first real smart phone seemed to fill a vacant hole in the world of telecommunications. Since then, that hole has been overstuffed with an endless stream of redundant devices. And while the need has been filled, refilled, and overfilled, millions of people continue to flock to the release of a new device, convinced that a need still exists and (even stranger) that it is extremely urgent. In the meantime, I’d urge you to “Think different.” Read a book…the kind made of paper.
Photo Credit: Ed Uthman – originally posted to Flickr as Apple I Computer, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7180001