I came across this very thoughtful piece by W. Andrew Ewell in which he highlights the following verse in Apple’s latest Ad.
This is it.
This is what matters.
The experience of a product.
How it makes someone feel.
Will it make life better?
Does it deserve to exist?
If you are busy making everything,
How can you perfect anything?
He then asked the question, does the iPad deserve to exist?
W. Andrew Ewell:
So how about the iPad? Does it deserve to exist? The mere fact of the question having been asked implies that it already does–and its use in an advertisement further indicates that Apple believes it should. The iPad is no longer just a convenient device; it’s an indispensable companion, humanized to the point that we really believe we “may rarely look at it,” but that it still “enhances each life it touches.” That the question is left unanswered suggests they’re content to leave us with the assumption that the object’s existence is prima facie a good thing, and all that’s left for us to worry over is whether or not we can handle something so remarkable. Picture the creature coming to life on Victor’s table! See his “dun-white” eyes open, his black lips part. But will he ever really offer friendship? Solace? Relief from loneliness or pain?
My worry isn’t that tech companies inflate their sense of importance in our daily lives, or that they might sometimes reach beyond the limits of their scope and relevance in order to sell more widgets. That’s their prerogative, and perhaps also their imperative. My worry is that we allow them. We question oil companies, the auto industry and fast food. But we allow Apple to humanize its products even as it dehumanizes its labor force with long hours, low pay, and dangerous conditions.
Instead, when Apple tells us the iPad “means everything,” and that it was “designed by Apple in California,” we should keep in mind the history of literature devoted to the critique of just this sort of claim; we should remember that the device may have been “designed” in California, but was made in China; that if you aren’t going to look at it very often, you probably shouldn’t bother spending money on it; and that if you’re relying on a piece of aluminum and glass to enhance your life, then you might, as Victor Frankenstein warned almost two centuries ago, be about to “destroy your taste for those simple pleasures” in pursuit of something “not befitting the human mind.”
Not so sure about the iPad but iPhone certainly feel as though it deserves to exist!