Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Juxtiposition of Reality part 2: Why I don't care about the new iphone

Most of the time I go about my day to day life and just sort of take certain things for granted, reality for instance. Every now and then reality steps up and smacks me in the face. For example, my favourite blog, Shrink Rap, has been talking about the new iphone. But they're not the only ones, a lot of people I know are quite excited about the iphone coming to Canada and the new iphone in general. And I got to thinking about whether or not the iphone would have any impact on the people I work with, and what they would in fact do with an iphone. This made me laugh, and I thought I would share some of my laughter with you. It was also hard, and I thought I would share a piece of my ongoing struggle with society as well.

The thing that comes to mind is how amused some of the people at work would be by the "etch e sketch" feature. Many of the people I work with have had permanent brain damage from sniffing and drinking various solvents and non-potable alcohols. They no longer function on the same level as most of society around them, and I think they might find this amusing; particularly while intoxicated.

The second image in my head was of a sudden influx of drugs into the poorest part of town and a new breed of iphone carrying drug dealers. People will sell anything to get drugs, and I'm pretty sure most people wouldn't be able to hang onto something this valuable for long. Not all drug dealers use drugs, so it's a little easier for them to hang onto their possessions.

Then I thought about what a different place the drop in would be if everyone sat around listening to music with ear buds. One of the greatest things about work is the sense of community among the people, and I think something huge would be lost of everyone was off in their own little world all of the time. There might be less fights, but I don't think it would be worth it to lose that sense of community.

I also considered the fact that many (but not nearly all) of our clients are illiterate or computer illiterate and how this might impact their use of their iphones. On the other hand, this might be a great teaching opportunity, and a chance to give people some marketable skills. Besides that, it's a whole lot easier to get a job if you have a phone! People could call them for interviews, set up meetings etc... And think of the opportunities for them to use the internet to connect with the outside world!

But the thing is, no one is going to come around giving my city's homeless people iphones, and if they did, it would be a huge waste of money. There are so many more beneficial things we could do with the money; like provide vegetables, and a larger, less crowded space to sleep. How great would it be to never have to turn away a cold, tired, hungry person! Or maybe, instead of having a sock exchange we could give out brand new socks each time; or at least not wash them quite so many times.

And this is where I get hung up. There are people suffering, and the money invested in creating the iphone could have been spent in dozens of different ways to work to alleviate suffering, but I don't think that makes the iphone bad. In fact, I think it's kind of cool, and if anyone I know ever gets one, I'll definitely be "etch e sketching". So sometimes, instead of trying to reconcile those two views in my head, I just don't. It's sort of like, I care so much, that I can't care, because it would be too hard, and then I wouldn't be able to care as much.

So, I don't care about the new iphone. It's just easier that way.


cb said...

I have to say the iPhone hype has passed me by somewhat.
I didn't realise it could do etch-a-sketch though.. but a quick google reveals that original etch-a-sketches are being sold for about £12. Could be a lot cheaper!
More seriously, I sometimes get annoyed and frustrated by the different priorities society has, particularly over things like money spent on gadgets - but its always going to be like that and any amount of frustration won't, I don't think, change the have-nots into haves. Maybe I've become a bit more jaded but I like to think that some of the things I do and see at work enable me to have a different perspective which is no bad thing!

Roy said...

Sorry for missing your post on Grand Rounds. I fixed it. Great post, by the way. Good points.

Dragonfly said...

Love the post! Am not feeling the hype myself...possibly because I am in Australia - no doubt it will come in a year or so.