Hello to anyone reading this on your iPhone, MacBook or iPad right now. Shout-out to myself, for I am typing this column on my MacBook, preparing to send it via email to my senior editor. Finally, a very special acknowledgment to the late Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the two people who co-founded Apple, Inc. in 1976. Without them, the majority of us wouldn’t (digitally) be here. That is to say, we wouldn’t be in our technology cult.
Call me cynical, but our reality is that we are dependent on a single corporation to manufacture and produce our livelihood. We fawn over larger cameras, another hour of battery life (like that’s really going to stop you from outlet-hugging anyways), and, in a much larger sense, the peace of mind that upgrading to the most recent iOS will somehow better protect us from the evils in the world.
This past Friday, Apple launched its iPhone 13, starting at $699 for iPhone Mini and progressively growing more expensive until you reach the holy grail of smartphones: the iPhone Pro Max, which will quickly rob you of $1,099. Sure enough, just as the sun rose on the east coast, once again did technology-obsessed wackjobs line up outside of Apple stores to get their hands on a coveted, 5.78×2.82×0.3-inch rectangular prism.
The dynamic is quite clear: We are absolutely hooked and Apple knows it. From a business standpoint, it’s all marketing. The company focuses on their unique appeal to prospective customers, which is a “beautiful design that works right out of the box with ever-smaller packaging.” Think about it: Apple products are sleek, simplistic and sexy; much of their consumer appeal solely comes from attractiveness to the eye. When you open a box, you feel as if you’ve been transported 100 years into the future. No other company can truly replicate that.
Moreover, everything about Apple is proprietary: iCloud, AirDrop and the side effect of having every bubble in the group chat be blue. If you’re the one who makes or has made the group chat bubbles turn green, you’ve probably been guilted into purchasing an iPhone by now. Overall, the corporation’s strategy is very much a “competitive advantage for Apple and its market share,” as it easily retains customers.
I, too, am deeply entrenched in Apple’s web of compatibility. I have an iPhone, MacBook Air and AirPods, similar to many of you I’m sure. Personally, I find it alarming that I am so dependent on their technology to maintain my daily efficiency. Therefore, I try to minimize my usage. I still take notes with paper and pencil — despite looking like I am dated 50 years in the past compared to my classmates — and not a MacBook, because physically transcribing information is how I best retain information (and science upholds this approach’s value). I also prefer not to put in AirPods and listen to music while I walk to class so I can soak in the sounds of campus without interruption.
I encourage the rest of you to do the same, at least every once in a while. It’s easy to convince yourself that you need Apple’s products at your side at every turn, perhaps to justify the insane price tags behind them. Yet, when you buy their technology, you’re not acquiring the incremental upgrades or increase in value. You are renewing your contract of thought, in that you are lost without them.
As a society, we place value perhaps a little too frequently in the wrong spots. If the bubbles were green and not blue, would it really affect the ability and impact of texting? If we had to use a manual alarm clock instead of our phone’s audibly pleasing ringtones, wouldn’t we still wake up in the morning? Worse yet, imagine if we still had to use a landline!
If we weren’t as consumed by brands, labels and status — all byproducts of what Apple devices offer through their actual, marketable products — then perhaps we could discover a little more enjoyment in life’s natural beauties.
Whenever I’m at an Apple Store or in a crowded room full of people gazing at their pixelated screens, I feel like I’m living the movie “Wall-E.” We, as the human species, are boarding Apple’s giant spaceship, living comfortably through our technology. Somewhere on Earth, people exist without these electronic means of communication, totally happy and at peace with their lives, waiting for more people to join them. I, myself, am willing to contemplate my reliance and begin to reconsider my constant use of Apple products.
The question is: Are you?
Sam Woiteshek is an Opinion Columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.