Things are all a buzz about the new iPhone X and other new phones in the Apple stable. The same problem I have with Coke, I have with Apple. On the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone, we are introduced to its most proficient heir even as we face the fact that the smartphone has brought a host of changes that are not all positive. Our children's lives are defined by their phones. Our face to face conversations have been replaced by texts, tweets, and instagrams. Apple has changed our lives but is it for the better?
Apple is less a brand than a way of thinking. Those who use its computers march to the tune of a different drummer in more ways than one. “Apple retail,” said CEO Tim Cook, “has always been about more than selling. It’s about learning, inspiring and connecting with people.” Apple is not selling a phone or even a smart phone but a device to frame your life differently, to make it all prettier, to guarantee your life will be better, and to ensure that you will have more fun because of your iPhone. A thousand dollars is nothing in comparison to all the improvements to your daily life this device promises. At least that is what they hope folks will think. Facial recognition software and emojiis that follow your own head movements would be cheap at twice the price.
As none other than the New York Times put it, "Apple is selling us a better vision of ourselves." Therein lies the problem. We worship our technology and there is no technology more godly than Apple's slightly quirky and almost idyllic promise of a new and better world if we pay a grand and hold its device in our hands. The sun is dawning over us and it is bringing us a new sense of our own identity, a new confidence in our progressive future, and a new idea of what a better life ought to be. In other words, Apple has become one of the leading deities of a new religion in which technology is front and center. Strange. Because Steven Jobs was raised in a Lutheran home, baptized in a Lutheran church, and confirmed in a Lutheran congregation. Yes, he ended up following Zen Buddhism and long ago traded his Lutheranism for a desire to make a dent in the world. Yes, he eschewed dogma and has his own ideas of freedom. But the world has followed him and we have reshaped our lives to mirror what Jobs and his cohort have decided that life ought to be. Sounds like a religion in which I am at the center of things, or, more accurately, the me that Apple and others have decided ought to be.
Full disclosure. I have an old version of the iPhone. I will not buy the X. Not even the 8 or 8+. I have enough trouble getting my fingerprint recognized to unlock the phone. I don't get my email on the phone nor do I spend my day on it. It spends most of its time in my pocket waiting for the occasional phone call. And one other thing. I use it to carry photos of my first grandchild, a beautiful little girl. Lots of photos. My world is not about me. It is becoming about her. But that is a grandfatherly prerogative.