This weekend, the long awaited iPad, Apple’s newest must-have technology, finally hit the shelves. Reading the news over the last few days I came across stories entitled “10 Things You Need to Know About the iPad” and “Why We Need the iPad.” A quick stint at a social function quickly turned into the haves and the have-nots as the glorious instrument had been out for 24 hours and those who were in possession needed to share knowledge of their newfound gain. Those without quickly proclaimed that the only reason they didn’t have one yet was because they were waiting for the next model or they hadn’t had time over the weekend to get one.
As I listened, I had to ask myself, does anyone really need an iPad?
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a Luddite at heart but I have the soul of a techie. I grew up wanting every new tech gadget out there because I am absolutely amazed by technology. I think the iPad is not only revolutionary (from what I have read), but truly means we are now living on the cover of those 1950s Popular Mechanics magazines with the flying cars and the wristwatch TVs. So the problem I have is not as much with the iPad itself, but with what these new technogadgets make us believe.
You see, no one, and I can truly say this without having to verify my facts, truly needs an iPad. I say this because in the grand scheme of things, “need” and “iPad” don’t belong in the same sentence (unless we’re talking some bizarre ransom note I don’t know about). We may want one, may covet it, may desire it, and may think erroneously that we can’t live without it, but in fact, none of us need it.
However, due to insane marketing (how many tens of thousands of ads are we bombarded with every day?), a manufactured desire to keep up with the Jones, and a newfound gap in our possessions that a year ago we didn’t even know existed, many of us are now being told that we can’t live without it. And when the next model comes out, many of us will find that we need that one even more, and the one after that even more, and on and on and on.
I said before that I have the heart of a techie and that’s the truth, but it pretty much stops there. I don’t have an iPad, an iPhone, or a big screen TV with a massive surround system. I don’t drive a new car, own a new house, or have the latest computer even though I could afford many of these things. Like I said, when I was younger, I was the guy who wanted all that stuff, but somewhere along the way I woke up. I realized that I didn’t need any of it, and in fact most of it was making me sick. Sick because as I got more stuff, I wanted more stuff, and like a bad drug, it never ended. In this land of entitlement in which many of us live, we are led to believe that we deserve these things, that we’ve earned them and they should rightfully be ours, and if we can’t get them for ourselves, we become unhappy and feel unfulfilled.
So I’d like to take the bold step of saying that no one needs the iPad, beyond Apple themselves of course. Additionally, we don’t need TV, video games, and pretty much everything else that we are being instructed to believe that we need. What we do need is clean water. What we do need is clean air. When your access to edible food runs out, see if your iPad can stop the grumbling in your stomach.
We need clean energy, clean politics and clean minds. We need political systems that cater to us rather than the big businesses that enslave us to their products. We need laughter, happiness and justice. We need a radical reshaping of what we all think is important in life, and we need to take a deep long look at why we spend as much time as we do at work and as little time as we do with our families. We need to wake up, need to stand up, and need to speak up. And we need to slow down
We need all these things and more, but what we do not need, is an iPad.