The New Temptation

Did you wake up today feeling like you’re missing out on something? Are you tempted to book your place in the queue for the revolutionary iPhone X?

I use Apple products every day but there’s something about the inevitable fanfare of their new product launches that concerns me. I’ll admit that it’s clever marketing but it always leaves me feeling quite unsettled.

The latest iPhones have been launched and once again they offer newer, better, must have features. So we now have the iPhone X, available from the first week of November, as well as the iPhone 8 and 8+ which will start selling before the end of this month. If you believe the hype, the new versions almost render the previous versions obsolete.

Apple has rolled out its much-anticipated iPhone X, a redesigned product of glass and stainless steel with an edge-to-edge display that Apple chief executive Tim Cook has described as, “the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone”.

The new iPhone features include wireless charging, an infrared camera and special hardware for facial recognition, which will replace the fingerprint sensor for unlocking the phone. – ABC

I have certainly embraced new technology but I do worry about the relentless pursuit of the newest and latest.

Each upgrade or redesign is calculated to make us feel that the device in our hand is no longer worthy of our complete adoration. It’s time to move on to the next big thing and the next big thing is a shinier version of the last with features you didn’t know you needed until it was pointed out that you don’t have them.

Apple is not the issue.

Just in case you think this is a rant against Apple, it’s not. Just in case you think I’m just pointing the finger at others, I’m on the treadmill too. I don’t have the very latest of every ‘gadget’ but my eye is caught by the non-stop advancements in technology and a lot of the technology I own comes from the Apple factory.

I love music so I use my iPod Classic every day. I won an iPhone 6+ some years back and it’s excellent for both work and personal usage. (My phone battery died recently and I did the unthinkable. I paid to replace the battery rather than upgrading the phone.) I also regularly use my iPad at home and for work.

Apple isn’t the issue. The relentless push to have more and more of the very latest is what causes me to feel uneasy.

We may say that we’re buying new technology but we’re actually buying a promise. It’s the promise that a piece of technological hardware will make our life somehow better, more complete, but it’s a distraction and the promise is broken not long after we open the skilfully designed packaging.

My ‘old’ iPad, iPod and iPhone don’t cease to be functional when each new generation is released. They’re all several years old and several models out of date but interestingly enough, they still do what I need them to do.

It seems that we keep trying to fill every moment of every day with distractions that really don’t add anything to our quality of life and they certainly don’t answer the bigger life questions.

We feel that we need something new simply because it’s available and the thought of not have the latest causes some people to break out in cold sweats. And don’t tell me it’s about functionality. It’s about feeling that we’re missing out if we don’t have the latest. We imagine that it’s better whether it is or not.

We’ve let ourselves be duped into believing that satisfaction in life is just one more purchase away. The strange thing is that when the next new and shiny item is offered for sale we jump for it, demonstrating that the last item we thought would satisfy didn’t really improve our quality of life at all. If it did we wouldn’t need the latest version. Strangely enough, we refuse to learn the clearly obvious lesson and so we just repeat the cycle.

I’ve got news for you. It doesn’t stop and it will never satisfy.

All the latest gadgets, useful or not, are just distractions. They all cause us to take our eyes off what’s really important in life. They distract us from relationships, contemplation, relaxation, and spirituality.

So whether it’s the latest car, fashion, technology or anything else, make sure you know what you’re buying. Purchase what you need but don’t buy the hollow promises and distractions that inevitably come packaged with them.

We know that all the distractions don’t bring lasting happiness or joy but we keep pursuing them, refusing to learn that they’ll never satisfy. We keep chasing the distractions. We’re being distracted to death.

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It’ll Never Work

ipod

Back in April 2001 Steve Jobs introduced the world to a brand new Apple product. The iPod.

The iPod went on to become a huge success but what were the initial thoughts of those who were already Apple fans? While some thought it was a great idea, others weren’t so sure. As the announcement was being made, many were hitting an Apple forum with their thoughts on Apple’s New Thing.

I still can’t believe this! All this hype for something so ridiculous! Who cares about an MP3 player? I want something new! I want them to think differently!

Why oh why would they do this?! It’s so wrong! It’s so stupid!

People were expecting more. Even though the iPod was about to revolutionise the way people listened to music, many people didn’t really think that a 5 GB music player would ever amount to much.

And then they saw the price. Not only did Apple want them to buy a glorified MP3 player, they wanted people to pay a premium price.

OH NO! Just checked Apple Store – they want $399.00 for this thing…Ouch!!!

This new device seemed doomed to failure in many people’s minds. A lot of people were trying to see the future as simply an extension of what came before. Apple was offering a new way of doing things. Many couldn’t get past the past.

I have no use for an Mp3 player.

My house has a CD player.
My car has a CD player.
My Mac has a CD player.

I don’t use headphones.

The iPod requires me to change my lifestyle to meet it’s needs…

I need round holes, not square holes.

For $99 I might buy the toy, for $399? Why?

While the iPod as a separate device is now losing popularity, it certainly has had an amazing history over the last decade and a half. (I should add that I have an iPod Classic with over 8000 songs on it. I’m not giving up on the iPod anytime soon.)

Apple took an enormous risk with the iPod. What would have happened if people hadn’t embraced this new device? Not everything Apple has developed and released has worked. They’ve had some spectacular flops but that hasn’t stopped them from looking for something new. Their successes have more than compensated for the times that they’ve got it wrong. (Or maybe the times that the public failed to embrace something new.)

It’s sometimes difficult to move ahead with an idea when everyone seems to be an expert and the so-called experts are telling you your ideas won’t work. How do you draw the line between believing in your own ideas and listening to good advice?

I wonder how often we’re prepared to do something that’s never been done before. Are we prepared to take a risk and do something different or are our ideas simply a slightly better way of doing something we’re already doing? How do we balance the very real need for improving what we’re currently doing and the need to find the next big thing?

Do you have ideas that you’ve put in the ‘that’ll never work’ category? Is it time to pull them out of the too hard basket for another look?

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Death by Distraction

apple

(This is an updated post, first written in 2012 at the time of the iPhone 5 launch.)

I’m conflicted. I use Apple products every day but there’s something about the inevitable fanfare of their new product launches that always concerns me. I’ll admit that it’s clever marketing but it always leaves me feeling quite unsettled.

The iPhone 6 is about to be launched and people will soon be scrambling to get their hands on the new technology. Many are guessing about what amazing features the new iPhone will have. People are also excited about the possibility of the launch of the iWatch.

I have certainly embraced new technology but I do worry about the relentless pursuit of the newest and latest. I read some years back of a young woman who loves Apple so much that she says she’d had about eight iPhones over just a couple of years. The number has probably continued to climb since then. For the life of me I can’t understand why anyone needs to be buying that many phones.

Apple is not the issue.

Just in case you think this is a rant against Apple, it’s not. I love music so I love the iPod that I received as a gift some years ago. My wife won an iPad and gave it to me. I use it all the time and find it very handy for a variety of purposes. I currently have an iPhone 4, the model before Siri. Most people would consider it prehistoric but I find it both fun and functional. It still does what I need it to do and if at some point it stops working, I’ll look at an upgrade. Apple isn’t the issue. The relentless push to have more and more of the very latest is what causes me to feel uneasy. Our constant need to cast off what is still doing what it needs to do simply to have a newer version with a few tweaks is troubling.

My ‘old’ iPad didn’t cease to be functional when the next generation and the one after that were released. My iPod is quite a few years old and several models out of date but interestingly enough, it still plays my favourite music. I actually wouldn’t mind a new iPod but not the latest and supposedly greatest model. If I get the chance I’m going for the classic. It’s bulkier and has less features but it will fit heaps more music and strangely enough, that’s what it’s about for me.

It seems that we keep trying to fill every moment of every day with distractions that really don’t add anything to our quality of life and they certainly don’t answer the bigger life questions. We feel that we need something new simply because it’s available and the thought of not have the latest causes some people to break out in cold sweats. And don’t tell me it’s about functionality. It’s about feeling that we’re missing out if we don’t have the latest. We imagine that it’s better whether it is or not.

It’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes all over again. We’ve let ourselves be duped into believing that satisfaction in life is just one more purchase away.

The strange thing is that when then next new and shiny item is offered for sale we jump for it, demonstrating that the last item we thought would satisfy didn’t really improve our quality of life at all. If it did we wouldn’t need the latest version.

Strangely enough we refuse to learn the clearly obvious lesson and so we just repeat the cycle.

We may say that we’re buying new technology but we’re actually buying a promise. It’s the promise that a piece of technological hardware will make our life somehow better, more complete, but it’s a distraction and the promise is broken not long after we open the skilfully designed box.

I’ve got news for you. It doesn’t stop and it will never satisfy.

All the latest gadgets, useful or not, are just distractions. They all cause us to take our eyes off what’s really important in life. They distract us from relationships, contemplation, relaxation and spirituality. We know that all the distractions don’t bring lasting happiness or joy but we keep pursuing them, refusing to learn that they’ll never satisfy. We keep chasing the distractions. We’re being distracted to death.

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Could You Switch Off?

After reading one of the questions on one my favourite blogs yesterday morning (That’s My Answer) I was thinking about how addicted we have become to electronic gadgets. Everywhere we go these days people are glued to gadgets of various kinds. I challenge you to walk down just about any street around the world without seeing at least one person, if not several, on a mobile phone.

Earlier this year while I was on jury duty I travelled by bus and train into the city every day. It was definitely the minority that weren’t plugged in to some kind of gadget.

Is your life cluttered by gadgets? Have all our gadgets improved our lives?

Would you cope if you had to shut off all your electronic gadgets for an entire week?

Could you find the off button on your mobile phone and leave it off for a week? How about your computers, your TV, iPod, video games? Would you last the week? Would you last 24 hours? Maybe you could rediscover real books or spend your time in real conversations.

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Shuffle Music Challenge

Clint from The Wilderness has thrown out the challenge.

He’s picked up a music challenge from Facebook which he ran on his blog. I’ve decided I’ll do something similar here.

The basic idea is that you put your iTunes or equivalent on random then post the first line from the first 25 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing. (Unless it is the title of the song.)

I’ve done that bit, now it’s your turn. You need to guess what the songs are. You need to name the song and the artist without cheating. No Googling.

Guess one or guess them all in the comments section of this post.

1. Suburbia, 1 a.m. you’re walking home again. Shopping bags and broken glass. I hate going through the underpass.

2. She was insatiable, you know the type and she was young, but she was ripe.

3. And on a Monday, I’m gonna love ya, and on a Tuesday, I’m gonna hug ya, and on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, gonna love ya.

4. Try to stop the world spinning ’round. My phone bill will tell you she lives outta town.

5. Just hear those sleigh bells jingle-ing, ring ting tingle-ing too.

6. Out to the west there’s a trail that leads somewhere and a call of the wild that takes some people there.

7. Everybody’s asking why he couldn’t adjust.

8. Better take care. Think I better go, better get a room.

9. I ain’t here to hold you when you cry. I ain’t here to hold your shaky hand.

10. Used to be that I could see a reason to be happy cause I was free.

11. The iron hand it ain’t no match for the iron rod. The strongest wall will crumble and fall to a mighty God. When He Returns – Bob Dylan

12. Pedro lives out of the Wilshire hotel. He looks out a window without glass. Dirty Blvd. – Lou Reed.

13. Yeah, I’ve had my share of broken dreams and more than a couple of falls.

14. I met your boyfriend on Martin’s Lane and he said, “Fancy running into you again”.

15. They say everything can be replaced. They say every distance is not near. I Shall Be Released – The Band.

16. If we don’t move the move’s our last. We deprive ourselves of our only chance.

17. I feel the need in me to focus my desire.

18. Isabelle is a belly dancer with a kleptomaniac’s restraint. Take Me to Your Leader – Newsboys

19. There’s no escape on the spell you have placed.

20. Just when the sun shines the brightest and the world looks alright again.

21. I wanted everything for a little while. Why shouldn’t I?

22. My love she speaks like silence, without ideals or violence. She doesn’t have to say she’s faithful, yet she’s true, like ice, like fire. Love Minus Zero/No Limit – Bob Dylan

23. Know I wasn’t good. Maybe I was even bad but I was way too young to know just what I had.

24. Could never walk away from that girl. She’s the only one in the world. She’s the ruler of the table-top. She’s no persnickety, she’s real persimmon. Love Beats Me Up – Australian Crawl

25. Movie stars and fancy cars delight you. Gala balls and opening nights excite you.

Yes, you’re right. I have rather eclectic tastes in music but have a go anyway and see how many you can guess.

I’ll highlight each one in red once it’s been guessed.

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