Distracted to Death

I’m conflicted. 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 iPhone 5 has been launched and according to their marketing chief, Phil Schiller, shipments will start in about a week in the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Australia and Japan, and the latest must have device will be in 100 countries by the end of the year. There have been forecasts of sales of up to 12 million new iPhones by the end of September.

I have certainly embraced new technology but I do worry about the relentless pursuit of the newest and latest. I read somewhere recently of a young woman who loves Apple so much that she says she’s had about eight iPhones over the last couple of years. 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 one of the original iPads and gave it to me. I use it every day and find it very handy for a variety of purposes. I currently have the use of an iPhone for work and I find it both fun and functional. Apple isn’t the issue. The relentless push to have more and more of the very latest is what causes me to feel uneasy.

My ‘old’ iPad didn’t cease to be functional when the next generation and the one after that were released. My iPod is several years old and several models out of date but interestingly enough, it still plays my favourite music. With a change in positions at work I’m about to swap my phone for an older model and it really doesn’t concern 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. This video proves that point.

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.

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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About the author

Rodney Olsen

Rodney is a husband, father, cyclist, blogger and podcaster from Perth Western Australia.

He previously worked in radio for about 25 years but these days he spends his time at Compassion Australia, working towards releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name.

The views he expresses here are his own.

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  • This is so true. I’m a huge computer/Mac/Apple nerd. I listen to podcasts that talk about the latest stuff, I read Daring Fireball. But I’m using a MacBook Pro from 2009 and an iPhone 3GS. I so have a new iPad though. 😉

    I find the iPhone 5 interesting, but I’m not desperate to get one because what I have is enough. When it isn’t, I might upgrade. But to try to stay “up to date’ is like trying to get to the end of the treadmill. You will never get there.

    I think young people, who are more affected by peer pressure, might struggle with this more. Having said that though, Apple has gained many acolytes of all ages.

    At the end of the day, though, these are all just things, and Apple is just a company. It doesn’t love us; it just wants our money.

    • You’re right about the treadmill. It just keeps going without end.

      I do wonder how some people keep up with buying the latest of everything, especially when I see people who I know aren’t earning a great deal with all the latest, expensive gadgetry. I can only guess that they’re being driven into higher and higher credit card debt.

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