Digerati, heal thyself: Blaming our shortcomings on our devices
The Apple Watch won’t be here for weeks but that’s good because according to the New York Times editorial page we’ll need that time to collect some rocks so we can stone it.
Thank goodness we have protectors of our very humanity like Timothy Egan who can rush to the pages of the nation’s greatest newspaper to burn the witches of technology as they arise.
I hate the new Apple Watch.
[The Macalope wades into the ocean. He lies back, letting the water cover his furry ears. He drifts away forever, hearing not the maddening cries of the New York Times editorial page.]
Is it possible to hate something you’ve never held and hasn’t even been released yet? The horny one supposes it is possible to hate concepts. The problem with hating concepts is that your perception of them often turns out to be tainted by misunderstanding their real world implications.
Surely that couldn’t be happening here.
Hate what it will do to conversation, to the pace of the day, to my friends, to myself.
Yes, yes, hate, hate, hate, all the hate. NOW, STOP. STREET CRED TIME.
This has nothing to do with Apple. We can still be friends. I’m writing on a MacBook Air...
Oh, well then! All is forgiven! Except the lede. And the entire first paragraph. And most of the rest of the piece. But mostly your cartoonish Ludditism.
The Macalope loves that trope. “I cannot be having a knee-jerk negative reaction because I use one of the company’s products! GOOD DAY, SIR!” It doesn’t work that way.
No, my animus for Apple’s smartwatch—excuse me, wearable technology—is for what it will do to us.
Oh, boy, heeeere we go. Yes, Timothy. Every new thing is a terrible omen of how we’re not connecting with the people around us. Somewhere there’s a stone tablet inscribed with a lament against papyrus causing the proliferation of reading instead of connecting with the people around us.
But connecting with the people around us is the most important thing ever! Why, the canonical dinner table with friends scenario that’s always trotted out in situations like this—and Egan does not disappoint—is nigh sacrosanct!
Except you know what? It isn’t. Here’s an example. The Macalope enjoys the occasional libation with some fellow mythical beasts. There’s the cyclops, the elven princess with +4 attack damage, the shrilly crying wyvern of death, and then there’s Mike. When we’re out at the watering hole (which is a literal watering hole but a magical one full of gin), Mrs. Macalope is at home putting the little Macalope to bed (don’t worry, she has her own night out). Sometimes the little Macalope wants a story from dad, so the Macalope obliges via text. A good story can take 10 minutes, during which the Macalope’s completely ignoring his friends. You know what? They’re adults, they can take it. Far better the little Macalope know that no matter where dad is, he’s thinking of him.
That’s the problem with every single one of these supposed nightmare disconnect scenarios. More often than not, when you’re ignoring your friends at the table, you’re doing it to connect to someone else. Is that always good? Maybe not, but the ability to connect to people who aren’t near us is just as important as being able to connect to those around us. It’s one of the fricking miracles of modern technology and the horny one has had it with people getting the connection vapors every time a new technology comes out that makes it easier.
Like most of us, I’m in need of digital detox, not a fresh hit.
Whose fault is that? The Watch’s or Timothy Egan’s?
Maybe—maybe—what you hate is not the Apple Watch, but your human frailty. Ever think of that?
Apple says its smartwatch, which it rolled out at one of its Dear Leader-like events in San Francisco this week...
Remember, he has nothing against Apple! He uses a MacBook!
Backlash is inevitable. A few days ago, Patrick Pichette, Google’s chief financial officer, announced that he was retiring because he wanted to spend more time offline. He had this epiphany, he wrote, while watching the sunrise from Mount Kilimanjaro with his wife...
Ah! If only we could all have epiphanies while watching the sunrise from Mount Kilimanjaro! Alas, we are not all absurdly wealthy and/or rhinoceroses.
...an experience Apple has yet to be able to meld to a wristwatch.
No, no. The Kilimanjaro epiphany is an in-app purchase only available on the Edition. It also costs $10,000.
Here’s the thing the Times’ editorial page should have thought about before publishing this piece: Maybe if you read something by someone who’s actually touched an Apple Watch, you’d realize that part of the idea behind it is to reduce the friction caused by the smartphone, to make those interactions take less time so you can get back to your needy dinner friends or mountaintop epiphanies or whatever.
Ultimately, however, Egan would do well to go deeper with the self-analysis than with the finger pointing. The fault, dear Timothy, lies not in our products, but in ourselves.