Matt Wiebe on The New iPad
Living where I do and not having any sort of official Apple store nearby and with the ability to order online I feel a bit removed from the hype and commercialism of a new product launch like the new iPad. I'm sure there's a few folks lined up at the local Best Future Buy Shop Drugs, but their employees aren't likely to do anything like this:
What disturbs me about Apple is the religion of it. It’s not just that their customers have attached transcendent meaning to Apple and its products, but that Apple actively cultivates veneration. When I spent three shame-faced hours in line for my iPad two years ago, the employees came out clapping and cheering as the Apple Store was about to open, trying to whip us up into a frenzy. I gritted my teeth, feeling as awkward as a Jew at a Pentecostal revival. I didn’t want to get saved, I just wanted to exchange money for a consumer good.
I get squeamish whenever confronted with that level of fanaticism of anything or anyone - particularly of things that I like.
When I see a hardcore U2 fan who's seen every concert, slept outside Bono's house and collected a guitar pick from The Edge's trash I see an image of what I could become1 and it makes me uncomfortable. I was in Dublin twice and felt weird about even the idea of trying to find Bono's house.
Same goes with people who, in Matt's vernacular, venerate Apple and each product release.
I get excited about new iStuff. I enjoy studying and reading about the how, why and what of the way Apple does things because they are a company that I respect. In the same way someone might debate the management of their favourite sports team, I enjoy debating what Apple does and thinking about why they might be doing it.
But at the end of the day, Apple is a publicly traded corporation who's goal is to make money. And the way they make money is by convincing you to part with yours in exchange for goods they produce at a profit to themselves. Sometimes very nice, very shiny goods.
But the goods they produce aren't going to feed your soul in the long run. Once more from Matt's post:
And yet, here I see glimmers of hope; of people striving to connect with something transcendent and significant. They’re horribly misguided, but the underlying impulse is sound and good. I believe that following Jesus in self-giving love is the answer to this religious impulse, but I’d settle for anything that looks a little more like service or love or justice and a little less like conspicuous consumption.
- ...if I hadn't met my wife? ↩