So Tell Me What You Want, What You Really Really Want

About two weeks ago I sprung for a new iPhone. The reasons and justifications for this purchase are not important and, to be honest, largely suspect. What is important is that I have traversed the chasm between “God, am I sick of hearing about iPhones” factions and landed squarely in the “have you heard about my awesome iPhone” clique.

But, what I love best about my iPhone is not the apps, the cool swipey interface, the 3G networkativity or any quite so tangible or understandable feature. So far, what I like best about my iPhone is being seen having an iPhone. It is through intense efforts of will that I don’t constantly point out to people who do not have an iPhone that, unlike them, I do have an iPhone.

I am not proud of this, but neither am I alone. As I had suspected all along, one of the best things about adopting the fancy new tech, though not quite so fancy and new as it once was, is being part of the cabal. And, lest you feel inclined to hop onto your high horse and ride around bespeaking the greatness of you for not being such an ego driven chamberpot of self-satisfaction, I daresay that this is almost certainly a driving motivation for virtually every technophile.

As you sit there thinking what a fool I am for buying into the cult of Apple, and how your Zune has so many better features without being a badge for conformity, I dare you to stand there and deny that one of your favorite things about not owning an iPhone is not being a person who owns an iPhone.

When I show you my iPhone, and you show me your Zune, you will almost certainly derive only pleasure when some disheartened and stormy expression navigates the landscape of my face upon discovering some function that my cult-box can’t do. You derive joy not from the application alone, but from my lack of access; from your own perceived superiority. Just like me.

It’s not like I’m cracking some hidden and heretofore unexplored psyche of the human mind. To have where others have-not is as fundamental to the human condition as men thinking about breasts or women wishing men would stop looking at their breasts all the time.

I just don’t think we technonerds have historically been quite as willing to accept that our meat-brain flaws are the same ones shared by BMW owners and pharmaceutical executives. If you have ever wanted an easy explanation for why console war is even a meaningful phrase, I offer you the best possible evidence. The deep and entrenched desire to identify superiority through possession. This isn't cortex and cerebellum humanity here, folks, this is down and dirty amygdala kind of stuff.

Despite everything people might say, I think those proselytizing Xbox owners, the evangelists who seem to invest themselves in ownership, really do on some level want PS3 owners to feel bad about their purchase, or vice versa. It is as plain and obvious a thing as a sunrise or an episode of Two and a Half Men.

I hate to be all Molly Ringwald from the Breakfast Club, but let’s face it, sitting at the cool-kids table of technology is a weird kind of power trip. When it comes right down to it, there’s no good reason, for example, to rush out and buy the latest $600 video card or the fanciest new mp3 player, except to be able to say that you have it. When it comes right down to it, there’s pretty much no reason for me to have an iPhone instead of a sensible base model except status.

We don’t talk much about geek status, but don’t kid yourself. It’s there. Hell, chances are if you’re reading this then you’re already in neck deep.

I have this strange daydream. Should you encounter me on the street with an unfocused wistful gaze aimed nowhere in particular, perhaps absently looking at women's breasts, there’s at least a reasonable chance I’ve been consumed by this particular musing. In my mind’s eye I travel back in time to, say, 1982. I show this person what the future of technology looks like, maybe a really cool game cutscene or an app on my phone. They are dazzled and amazed. Their eyes bulge with desire and their mind is literally blown by the crisp visuals, the furious bending of data and the sheer efficiency of what they have seen. And then, they are forever ruined on the substandard technology of their own time. Mission complete to my satisfaction, I return to my own era and leave them with unfulfilled dreams of what will be.

I do not think I’m the only one who has dreamed up this impossible scenario, and if I am then maybe all of this says more about me than it does about every one else. I’m sure most people will want to rise above the degradation of what I am suggesting. No, you may say, I am more elevated than that. I derive my pleasure from the purposeful ownership of equipment that facilitates my professional and recreational desires.

Thing is, I just don’t buy it. I think ownership is as much a source of our desire as the function of objects themselves. I don’t even necessarily believe that it’s such a bad thing.

I’m just saying, the next time you buy a new piece of technology, or lust after some amazing gadget that has little practical application in your life, give yourself just a moment to consider. Is it that you want the thing, or you want a thing that others do not have?

Comments

Clemenstation wrote:

Noooooooo... Adorno!

Horkheimer can't be far behind.

IMAGE(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/418MZY8JFBL.jpg)

Time for a new Conference Call logo?

IMAGE(http://img246.imageshack.us/img246/7661/gwjcciphone.jpg)

Now THAT'S funny. Rob ruins it with his crappy peasant phone, though.

Twan wrote:

I resisted the original and now the 3GS launch.
What I really want is a verizon compatible answer to the iphone and the palm pre.

I have what is essentially Verizon's clone of the iPhone, at least in terms of form factor: the LG Dare. I'm mostly very pleased with it, and the fact that, I could lord over iPhone users the landscape onscreen keyboard mode (i.e. when you turn the phone sideways, the keyboard rotates and expands to fill out the "width" of the screen), that came with it out of the box, which the iPhone only got after a (recent?) update. Sadly, there is no open (or even semi-open) app store, like the iPhone and the Google Android phones (and the Palm Pre?) have. But I got the phone originally simply because I needed a good replacement phone for one I busted; the landscape keyboard that I could show off to then-envious iPhone users was just an added bonus, I promise.

But yes, I want a Verizon-compatible version of the Palm Pre or the G1 SO much! I got to see a co-worker with a G1 in person for the first time just today, and he couldn't say enough good things about it.

Moggy wrote:
duckilama wrote:

You know what'll get any song out of your head?
Bananaphone
I promise.

Yep. This is my new ringtone. On my iPhone...

I've had that as my ringtone for years! There can be... only one! *busts out sword and goes all Highlander on Moggy*

Certis wrote:

Now THAT'S funny. Rob ruins it with his crappy peasant phone, though.

Well he is the only podcast crew member that is a Gamer without Job, so he has an excuse.

Yah know, I was kind of amazed and weirded out when I discovered how how all the corvette drivers wave to each other.

Wait, um....

I was waiting for this post after hearing Elysium got an iPhone. Not only must he constantly flaunt it in public, he needs to write about the fact too.

I proudly state that I will never succumb to the cult of Apple not through some misplaced sense of surperiority, but because I am superior.

I can't wait for the next Gamers with iPhones Conference Call featuring hot Apple porn with some app-store talk thrown in.

Elysium wrote:
You show me your IPhone I show you my 6 years old Nokia with a plan that costs about 90€ a year. I like new technology, I read the tech blogs, I'm curious about all scientific and technological advances, I just don't buy it until the prices are reasonable.

That's not the point.

The point is that you take power in that kind of statement. Didn't it, just there, give you a little endorphin buzz to be able to show me how thrifty and even-headed you are? Didn't you feel just a little bit superior to me for being a whimsical fool with a hole in his pocket?

It's exactly the same. The point is not the iPhone, it's that power we seek to take based on identities.

So, did you actually intend to word your article such that the only way to disagree with you is to NOT post? Won't that have the unfortunate side effect of stifling the discussion? I don't necessarily disagree with you, it just seems the people who DO disagree with you can only logically do so by staying silent. Quite sneaky, in fact!

Mousetrap wrote:
Elysium wrote:
You show me your IPhone I show you my 6 years old Nokia with a plan that costs about 90€ a year. I like new technology, I read the tech blogs, I'm curious about all scientific and technological advances, I just don't buy it until the prices are reasonable.

That's not the point.

The point is that you take power in that kind of statement. Didn't it, just there, give you a little endorphin buzz to be able to show me how thrifty and even-headed you are? Didn't you feel just a little bit superior to me for being a whimsical fool with a hole in his pocket?

It's exactly the same. The point is not the iPhone, it's that power we seek to take based on identities.

So, did you actually intend to word your article such that the only way to disagree with you is to NOT post? Won't that have the unfortunate side effect of stifling the discussion? I don't necessarily disagree with you, it just seems the people who DO disagree with you can only logically do so by staying silent. Quite sneaky, in fact!

I'm not sure about that. I feel my kamikaze method was fairly successful.

So, did you actually intend to word your article such that the only way to disagree with you is to NOT post?

I don't intend to stifle discussion. I simply intend to have it so all that the discussion agrees with me. If you think about it, it's quite ingenious.

To be serious, I think there are two ways to react to and disagree with the article. One is in a way that falls directly into the trap I've set, and another avoids it. I think we've seen clear examples of both.

Clemenstation wrote:

Noooooooo... Adorno!

Horkheimer can't be far behind.

I must be an unlettered peasant.

IMAGE(http://www.jackstargazer.com/StarGazrCrtnBk.1.jpg)

I'm still trying to come to terms with the title of the article....

Elysium wrote:
You show me your IPhone I show you my 6 years old Nokia with a plan that costs about 90€ a year. I like new technology, I read the tech blogs, I'm curious about all scientific and technological advances, I just don't buy it until the prices are reasonable.

That's not the point.

The point is that you take power in that kind of statement. Didn't it, just there, give you a little endorphin buzz to be able to show me how thrifty and even-headed you are? Didn't you feel just a little bit superior to me for being a whimsical fool with a hole in his pocket?

It's exactly the same. The point is not the iPhone, it's that power we seek to take based on identities.

So your saying I'm superior because of a trait of my personality and not by an artificial way of acquiring expensive goods.

Thank you because I felt broke when i wrote that

Elysium wrote:
You show me your IPhone I show you my 6 years old Nokia with a plan that costs about 90€ a year. I like new technology, I read the tech blogs, I'm curious about all scientific and technological advances, I just don't buy it until the prices are reasonable.

That's not the point.

The point is that you take power in that kind of statement. Didn't it, just there, give you a little endorphin buzz to be able to show me how thrifty and even-headed you are? Didn't you feel just a little bit superior to me for being a whimsical fool with a hole in his pocket?

It's exactly the same. The point is not the iPhone, it's that power we seek to take based on identities.

That's not the point.

The point is that you take power in that kind of statement. Didn't it, just there, give you a little endorphin buzz to be able to show me how intillectually superior you are? Didn't you feel just a little bit superior to him for being more intellectually aware?

Nosferatu wrote:
Elysium wrote:
You show me your IPhone I show you my 6 years old Nokia with a plan that costs about 90€ a year. I like new technology, I read the tech blogs, I'm curious about all scientific and technological advances, I just don't buy it until the prices are reasonable.

That's not the point.

The point is that you take power in that kind of statement. Didn't it, just there, give you a little endorphin buzz to be able to show me how thrifty and even-headed you are? Didn't you feel just a little bit superior to me for being a whimsical fool with a hole in his pocket?

It's exactly the same. The point is not the iPhone, it's that power we seek to take based on identities.

That's not the point.

The point is that you take power in that kind of statement. Didn't it, just there, give you a little endorphin buzz to be able to show me how intillectually superior you are? Didn't you feel just a little bit superior to him for being more intellectually aware?

That's not the point.

The point is that you take power in that kind of statement. Didn't it, just there, give you a little endorphin buzz to be able to show me how intillectually superior you are? Didn't you feel just a little bit superior to him for being more intellectually aware?

Nosferatu wrote:

That's not the point.

The point is that you take power in that kind of statement. Didn't it, just there, give you a little endorphin buzz to be able to show me how intillectually superior you are? Didn't you feel just a little bit superior to him for being more intellectually aware?
;)

You'd think he'd have gotten used to that high by now and had to move on to something harder.

Nosferatu wrote:
Nosferatu wrote:

That's not the point.

The point is that you take power in that kind of statement. Didn't it, just there, give you a little endorphin buzz to be able to show me how intillectually superior you are? Didn't you feel just a little bit superior to him for being more intellectually aware?

That's not the point.

The point is that you take power in that kind of statement. Didn't it, just there, give you a little endorphin buzz to be able to show me how intillectually superior you are? Didn't you feel just a little bit superior to him for being more intellectually aware?
;)

That's not the point.

The point is that you take power in that kind of redundancy. Didn't it, just there, give you—

[kanye]Adam, that's a good joke, and Imma let you finish, but just about anyone else has some of the best snide comments of all time![/kanye]

wordsmythe wrote:
Nosferatu wrote:

That's not the point.

The point is that you take power in that kind of statement. Didn't it, just there, give you a little endorphin buzz to be able to show me how intillectually superior you are? Didn't you feel just a little bit superior to him for being more intellectually aware?
;)

You'd think he'd have gotten used to that high by now and had to move on to something harder.

You would think, but some folks just can't get past that sort of thing apparently

While there is some truth to what Elysium argues, I'd also like to point out that there are lots of us that are tech geeks who don't feel the need to be on the cutting edge (and I'd point out that Elysium is hardly on that edge with the IPhone anyway). There is a brief period of wanting to show off any cool new toy, but that same idea applies to all kinds of things in life - the new burger place, your new girlfriend, etc. When we get something new to us we want to make sure others know about it.

Meanwhile my cheap phone costs way less and still does the most important thing just as well as your IPhone - make calls.

Sarkus wrote:

Meanwhile my cheap phone costs way less and still does the most important thing just as well as your IPhone - make calls.

You obviously haven't seen how I use my phone. Mine's more of a Google, GPS, Amazon pocket device than a voice communication tool.

LiquidMantis wrote:
Sarkus wrote:

Meanwhile my cheap phone costs way less and still does the most important thing just as well as your IPhone - make calls.

You obviously haven't seen how I use my phone. Mine's more of a Google, GPS, Amazon pocket device than a voice communication tool.

My cell's mostly used for its alarm function, since the reception is pretty crap. I haven't yet sat down and figured out if the antenna's busted or if I work and live in dead zones.

I'm VDO, and I'm a Zune supremacist.

(THE MENU SCREENS ARE PRETTY!)

Great article. We can determine what we wish to own, but what we own can also determine a few things about ourselves too -even something as large as identity...

LiquidMantis wrote:
Sarkus wrote:

Meanwhile my cheap phone costs way less and still does the most important thing just as well as your IPhone - make calls.

You obviously haven't seen how I use my phone. Mine's more of a Google, GPS, Amazon pocket device than a voice communication tool.

Same here. I don't have an iPhone I got an Omnia instead because it was cheaper. I use it for GPS and GWJ more than I actually phone.

I know that WinMo is the ugly cousin in smartpones, but I'm very happy.

LiquidMantis wrote:

Right now I couldn't see myself trading my Storm for an iPhone though. Not unless there were some pretty serious changes, mainly real multitasking and ....

What is it, in terms of an actual task you need to accomplish that makes you think that "real multitasking", whatever that is, a requirement? It's not like you are running a compiler in the background.

From a practical end-user standpoint, I find the "non-real multitasking" on the iPhone to be indistinguishable from any other "app switching" regime I've ever used.

I'm not saying there isn't a theoretical benefit to this, I'm saying that if you went around as asked 10,000 iPhone owners what missing feature made their lives demonstrably worse, I don't think more than a couple of people would actually pick that one.

Are you yet allowed to run non-Apple apps in the background? Can you run a GPS logger, for example Google Latitude, as a background task while using another third-party app? I find the idea of the hardware manufacturer dictating what applications I can use as well as how I can use them to be distasteful.

LiquidMantis wrote:

Are you yet allowed to run non-Apple apps in the background? Can you run a GPS logger, for example Google Latitude, as a background task while using another third-party app? I find the idea of the hardware manufacturer dictating what applications I can use as well as how I can use them to be distasteful.

You can do such things, but only once you bypass Apple's restrictions on the device by jailbreaking. In my case, app backgrounding and the ability to install non-approved apps are both requirements, so jailbreaking is also a requirement.

I'm a bit conflicted about this. By using Apple's product I am, in a sense, rewarding the very behavior I find distasteful. But as a practical concern, my requirements are ultimately still met and I am able to use the device as I wish. I also purchased my iPhone used, which denies Apple a direct sale (although this is a bit of a rationalization on my part, as high demand in the secondary market keeps prices there high and encourages people to purchase new products instead).

The ultimate question is really whether you value *functionality* more than you value the *principal* of not supporting a vendor who denies you said functionality. In my case practicality wins over idealism, but I can understand why people would avoid using such a crippled platform on general principal.

This article reminded me of a certain video..... "I have 4 PS3's!"
Having not bought an iPhone because alas in the UK there is only one mobile providor that will supply you with one and for a hefty fee i might add. So i chose to stick with the latest edition of the iPod classic (Which i love adoringly) and my Samsung Tocco Lite. I mean ipod touch....iPhone....doesnt really make a difference to me or to many people in the UK. Very nice article and may i say....I have 3 iPod classics!

I'm not going to lie. Part of the reason I bought an iphone is because nobody around me has it except for a stuck-up friend of mine. Now when I go out with him we have a light-saber war, sound effects included, whether its in the middle of Applebee's or down at the bar. It's fun to see how many people stop to see what's going on.

No, noooooooooooo! Just when I thought I had that damn song out of my head, someone had to go and bump the thread.