The iPhone was finally released in Australia yesterday.
As I made my way through our local shopping centre I noticed the long lines at the Telstra and the Optus shops. The shops had put up those retractable tape barriers that form those mazes that we all love so much at airports. Shoppers were corralled into dedicated iPhone shopping queues. People were determined to get their iPhone and they were prepared to kiss their day goodbye as they waited in line. They needed an iPhone.
Have you ever wondered how it is that things that weren’t even thought of not so long ago have become essential? The iPhone wasn’t even available in Australia a couple of days ago but yesterday it became something that thousands of people couldn’t live without. I only recently had to get a new phone because my old one broke. I got a reasonably basic one but it’s still got more fruit than I’ll ever really need. A mobile phone is a luxury anyway but all I really need is something to make and receive calls as well as sending the occasional text message.
Sure, we progress, and I certainly wouldn’t like to go back to days without electricity, running water and many of the others things we now take for granted, but I wonder if we get things a little out of proportion when it comes to what we consider as the basics of life. Are we confusing what is essential with things that are simply helpful or even luxuries?
Don’t get me wrong, there are certain toys that I’m happy to have. I listen to my iPod Mini everyday. I’ll admit that some people think it’s archaic, seeing as it’s one of the first 4 GB iPod Minis that was available. I think I bought mine only a short while before they stopped making them. I’ve got all kinds of bits and pieces that I don’t really ‘need’ but hopefully I’m keeping them in some kind of perspective. I don’t want to give up all the ‘stuff’ that living in Australia can offer, but on the other hand I don’t want to forget how fortunate I am to have access to so much wealth.
I know that by the simple fact that I’m now sitting and tapping away at this old computer with its staggering 1.2 GHz processor and 512 MB RAM, I have greater technology at my fingertips than the vast majority of the world’s population. In fact, knowing that I can walk a few steps from where I am right now, turn on a tap and pour a glass of drinkable water, puts me at a huge advantage over millions of people on this planet.
If you’re going to rush out and grab an iPhone, I hope you enjoy it and that it does what you need … er … want it to do. New technology is fascinating and I’m sure you’re going to get a lot of pleasure from your new purchase. I simply hope that you realise how incredibly fortunate you are to be able to spend more than what many other people in the world would earn in an entire year on your shiny new gadget.
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I totally agree with everything you’ve said here.
Have you ever seen the story of stuff video? It’s a great video and it talks about how we’re such a throw-away society. We keep buying new stuff when we really don’t need to.
I’m imagining a small minority of people actually are really into phones and that’s their thing. I support them standing in line. But for most people, I’m sure it’s just about status and bragging.
I think it’s sad.
So sorry Rodney… That high tech stuff is bleedin’ over to you all too… 🙂
If/when the next recession hits – and it’s a not too distant possibility – so many are going to be hit harder than in past recessions/depressions simply because they’ll refuse to give up their toys and gizmos, listing them as “essentials” alongside basic requirements like food, clothing, education, etc.
Gib, I’m certainly not against technology, I work with it every day, I just get a little concerned when we start to lose perspective.
Dina, it sounds like I should try to track down that video. I might be able to find it on YouTube.
Interesting point, Jayne. I wonder how many people are struggling with house payments because they’ve gone for the big house straight away instead of working towards it as our parents’ generations did.
In days gone past people would start small and after many years of hard work they’d be able to afford something better. I wonder if people will be forced to go back to those days as housing prices continue to spiral.
I agree with everything that’s been, and I don’t have an iPhone… yet (fortunately I have a wife who keeps me in check). But I would also point out it’s possible to get the iPhone for no more than the cost of one of the more advanced iPods (since you raise that – but I guess that’s not really the point). None-the-less, when you consider it’s three devices in one – phone, iPod and PDA, I’d be SAVING money if I bought one.
I just have to convince my wife of that.
Sounds like my kind of logic, Alex. When I see something discounted by hundreds of dollars I figure I should really buy it because I could do with those hundreds of dollars. 🙂