Why are we waiting?

What are you like at queuing? We’ve recently seen queues for the iPhone 5 at outlets around the world.

Here in Perth we’ve seen people camping out for the latest land releases and parents in Sydney are queuing from 3:00 a.m. on enrolment days to secure a place for their children in before and after school care.

They arrive in the middle of the night with deck chairs, blankets, beanies and flasks of coffee while they wait to be first in line when the care centre opens its doors on enrolment day.

It is a nightmare being played out across the city, with the popularity of cheap before- and after-school care soaring, especially in parts of Sydney where there has been a surge in the birth rate and where parents believe their children receive a gold-plated service. – News.com.au

I must admit I’ve queued overnight a few times but it was many years ago. (I’m sure there’s a line in there about being young and foolish.)

I think I did it two or three times for concert tickets. If I remember rightly I queued overnight for Joe Jackson tickets a couple of times and once for Clannad. I also stayed overnight on the pavement outside Subiaco Oval once many years ago to get a good viewing spot for the WAFL Grand Final in the early eighties. That uncomfortable night was well worth it to watch Swan Districts take the flag.

Have you queued for anything? How long are you prepared to queue for something you really want? What has caused you to wait in line and for how long?

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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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