Like “Avatar,” its cinematic counterpart, the iPad took many years to produce, required the most cutting-edge technologies to construct and will, assuredly, generate the millions of dollars in profits its creator so strongly expects. The iPad will also succumb to its damning fate of having far too much hype before its release. Once we take off our rose-tinted, 3-D goggles, we realize that things we initially found enticing and entertaining are sadly anticlimactic.
It’s the newest iThing to Apple’s technological empire — something to be dismissive about first, then secretly desire, then quite outwardly desire, then day-dream about for a while, semi-tentatively purchase, swiftly get bored with and feel hopelessly guilty about as it collects dusts on your now bookless shelf.
I’ve always been somewhat skeptical toward those who bark and pant like dogs as Apple dangles a new treat in front of its endlessly adulating devotees. Not just because all these things are colorful, cultish and defining features of a certain bourgeois-bohemian community; it’s also because they make me feel really bad for not having the same explosively giddy reaction.
And it’s all the more palpable at Yale. It’s only been a month or so of class and I’ve already been requested by my professor to get all my course books on Kindle. And on more than one occasion I’ve seen multiple people actually bring these shining emblems of ridiculousness to class. Apart from their blatant obnoxiousness in a classroom setting — probably akin to what a laptop must have been like at Yale some years ago — these e-readers seem to be the most awkward gifts people our age have unexpectedly received this Christmas. Now it won’t be long before they have iPads, too.
I’m not writing some technophobic, neo-Luddite rant about the digitization of the written word and the impending obsolescence of the scribe. I’m writing simply because I’ve rather guiltily yielded to the frenzied free-for-all of Apple’s newest products: their iridescent imagery, tantalizing touch-pads, and abundant applications.
These gadgets and gizmos have become our new toys. In the pre-stuff age, those toys were drugs, sex and rock and roll. They still are for most, but now, perhaps, we’ve moved on to more forbidden fruits: Apple. Just when you think you’ve got all the things you desperately need — Snuggies, Shake Weights, ShamWows — Apple goes
ahead and creates something else. I guess I’m just bored — bored with the way these new toys wrack my brain like a vulture at some carrion carcass, fed up with how I’m going to have to actively shy away from wanting to buy one and already bored with those who intend to.
Will this new device revolutionize the publishing industry, as “Avatar” was to change movies forever? Probably not. I mean, the iPhone was supposed to revolutionize cell phones, and there are plenty of people who just don’t own, and have no care whatsoever for, a bloody iPhone. And the iPad just seems to be like a giant iPhone — except without the phone.
It’s not just for me that the iPad seems to be causing such controversy. Even the name seems unoriginal (and, as the New York Times reported, Fujitsu claims it is). Scottish and Japanese clients cannot phonetically distinguish the iPad from the already ubiquitous iPod. “It reminds me of feminine products,” said CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. The term “iTampon” showed up on Twitter with tweets like “Heavy flow? There’s an app for that!” Perhaps this cringe-worthy association among pre-menopausal women explains similar devices’ popularity among octogenarian housewives knitting away by the fire, reading Oprah’s top picks on their extra-large-text Kindles.
And at Yale, like the Kindle, the iPad will say either “I’m too old and feeble to lug around all my books with me everywhere I go,” or “I’m far too flash and swanky and George Clooney from ‘Up in the Air’ to have all my precious books, magazines and newspapers (which people have a tendency often to buy and seldom read — myself included) bulge open in my swish attaché briefcase.” And while these are perfectly legitimate claims if you’re a senior citizen, or a wandering, airborne cosmopolite, I can’t possibly think anyone at Yale really is.
So if you will submit to this latest Apple furor — as I myself have to forcefully make sure I don’t — at least wait until these e-reader devices are not just the latest iThing and merit some kind of social acceptance before brandishing them around campus, especially in class.
Gabriel Perlman is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College.