Editorial: iPhones and people’s lives — Excitement brews over new gadgets, but why not over policies that help us?
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Sep 18, 2013 | 2270 views |  0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Come Friday, untold numbers of Americans will stand in line, perhaps for hours, for the right to buy the newest version of the iPhone, that ubiquitous smartphone that’s redesigned how we do things.

For them, waiting until Saturday won’t do. Friday it must be.

The iPhone, made by Apple, a U.S. company, is a global phenomenon that drives techy-savvy anticipation in virtually any nation with cell-phone service. The world speaks iPhone. The first sales day of a new iPhone is a geeky experience almost religious in nature, as New York Times tech writer David Pogue surmised earlier this week. “Now, two years after (Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ ) death, we still expect every new iPhone to clean our gutters, cook our popcorn and levitate. So when the hardware revisions are minor each year, we’re disappointed.”

In other words, people really care about their smartphones, whether made by Apple or one of its competitors.

Granted, the gadgets have become indispensable parts of our daily routines. They’re phones, cameras, Internet portals, message machines, shopping centers, game consoles, direction-finders, alarm clocks, calculators, TVs, music players and personal calendars, and more. (If you have one, try going without it for a week; we dare you.) But the birth of a new phone — particularly the over-marketed and constantly hyped iPhone — sends some Americans into a frenzy of anticipation that’s more about consumerism than necessity.

In a sense, that’s fine. The U.S. economy needs companies to make quality products and American consumers to shop as often as possible. Big-ticket items — such as 64-gigabyte smartphones with $100 protective cases — are fuel for the American retail structure. And a healthy economy is good for all, whether that phone in your pocket is made by Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Motorola or LG.

Still, it’s a question to consider: How come there isn’t this much excitement and anticipation for items that make a difference in people’s lives?

Hah, that’s a silly question, you say, and rightly so. New gadgets are cool. Bling isn’t boring. For some, especially the young among us, smartphones are status symbols unrivaled by today’s other electronic trinkets. (Ask any parent with a teenager for confirmation.)

Expecting similar titillation over new policies that lessen the poor’s suffering, revamp public education or inject ethics into state government is a Pollyanna-like notion. So we won’t, though we wish that weren’t the case.

If you’re one of those planning to stand in line Friday for a new iPhone, good luck. Your motives may be hard to truly understand, but we wish you well, nonetheless.
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