Chet has had a tumultous season. He now possesses the latest in technological fashion: yes, the iPhone. I’d coveted this device for some time, as some of the loyal readers of this blog know. But my relative poverty has always kept me from a purchase like this.
As for the iPhone: it was a Christmas gift. It is, as many of you know, both a phone and a web brower, both an iPod and a mail manager, has a camera function and, among all of these supposedly practical purposes, has cache. And I don’t mean the cache necessary for your web brower to retain images and elements of pages without needing to download an entire page once more. I mean cultural cache.
But so here’s the issue: can we argue with technology, with the future? Frequently I glibly say, “this is the future,” when showing off the iPhone or talking about certain kinds of technology. What is fascinating is the life of technology itself—how it has foisted itself upon us. Right after I graduated from college, I read Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman (recommended to me by my Heidegger professor who feared composing his thoughts at the computer). Postman provides a good analysis of the development of certain technologies, showing how they create uses for themselves. Certainly the cellphone is a good example of this, as it has acquired more and more functions and memory.
Had someone said, ten years ago, you need a phone with a subpar camera attached to it, I’d say, really? I have gotten along without these things for a long time, so why must I now not get along without them? Had it not been for Yana, I would have probably got one (not an iPhone) within the next year, but more because of convention and my own weak resistance to peer pressure than anything else. But why? Why is social pressure so insistent upon us all entering the future together?