“He who covets is a poor man, because he wants what he cannot get; but he who has nothing and covets nothing is rich, though you may think him no more than a peasant.” – Geoffrey Chaucer
Apple’s had quite a year; from the January unveiling of its iPhone to the brouhaha surrounding the June launch to the recent talk of production cutbacks. So, was it all just a case of overheated hype or was the iPhone actually worth the drama? Well, I’m not here to talk about merit of the product itself simply because it’s not yet available in South Africa and so I honestly can’t say. As far as I know, it might very well be the best thing ever. Then again, it might not.
What I do want to talk about is something a little more disturbing. It’s bad enough that so many people got so sucked into the frenzy that the thought of waiting a few months for the price to come down didn’t cross their minds. More troubling were the queues. It was quite a shock to see scores of wannabe customers lining the streets and camping outside stores for days on end just to make sure they got in on the action. All this for a phone(!)
Wasn’t that a little too much? I tried thinking of something I want so badly I’d be prepared to literally sleep outside just to have. It took a while and all I could come up with were tickets to see Red Hot Chilli Peppers or Josh Groban performing live. And even those don’t count because they’re more about the experience as opposed to owning whatever widget everyone’s dying to get their hands on.
I guess the lesson here is not to get caught up in hype because things come and go all the time. A few years ago everyone went nuts over Lost. A year later it was Prison Break. Now it’s Heroes. Even the Emmy Awards aren’t immune to following the trend. Everyone’s gone gaga over Ugly Better but who knows what’ll be next? How long before it loses its lustre the way Desperate Housewives did? And do you still remember who won the last season of Idols or Survivor? What about who came in second? Where are these people now? Does anyone even care?
Any weekend trip to the mall (something I avoid at all costs) offers even more proof. So many people get so obsessed with the latest fashion. A growing number of them are too young to even understand the concept of “vogue”, let alone how to spell it. First it was all things pink. Then it was the contradictory craze of Ugg Boots and mini skirts for girls as well as t-shirts with scarves for guys. Now it’s what can only be described as zebra chic. How long before all that is usurped by the next big thing?
Even more dangerous than buying into hype is choosing to let “things” define you. I can’t help but wonder whether the one million people who have bought the iPhone in the past few months did so because they really thought it was a great product or because they wanted to feel some sense of satisfaction. I also can’t help but wonder how many of them are actually still happy with their purchase (assuming they ever were) or if they’re now obsessing over something else.
The same goes for everyone who’s ever bought a house, a car, or even a new pair of designer jeans because they thought it would make them happy. I’m guessing that feeling didn’t last long. How could it? At the end of the day, you can accumulate as much stuff as your garage (or closet) can accommodate and it probably won’t change a thing. It really doesn’t matter. The colours will fade and the technology will change. All that will remain is you. Now that’s something worth buying into.