At its core, the Apple craze has always been about our reproductive system. According to Professor Scott Galloway (one of the most controversial Professors in America) - wielding your Apple logo is really saying that you're a good mate with great genes. It signifies that you're part of the innovation class. Galloway may be right and I have no shame in admitting it. I'm actually on my way to the Apple store after writing this. Not to consume more products per se (OK, well indirectly perhaps) but to repair my dying laptop. You see every two years or so, just like Moore's Law, my technology breaks down at the most critical time. I've since come to dub it Altman's Law. It's annoying, super frustrating, and undeniably a first world problem.
The modern malaise of my professional life has always orbited technology. I go through an increasingly light-hearted version of the grieving process (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) with each technology failure. Sometimes it's triggered by water magically jumping from a cup onto my keyboard. Sometimes it involves my phone deciding to dive off the table and see if its screen can withstand a 3/12 foot drop. Other times it might involve a thief that just can't resist my divine product. But most of the time the technology just fizzles. Kaput. Regardless of the why, this is what I typically feel:
Usually I'm gobsmacked. I stare at my broken device with total shock and think 'this can't be happening'. I pray to the gods (yes, all of them in case any happen to be listening) that the breakdown is a trifling issue. I'm hopeful the computer just got really tired and decided to take a short nap.
The first time a meltdown occurred was 2005 and I admit I was angry with myself more than the inanimate object that sat uselessly in front of me. The same feelings surfaced in 2007 and again in 2009. After that my anger seemed to morph into some twisted sort of humor. I tell my devices, "I've given you such a nice home, why do you hate me so much?" And if they all had eyes (I know yes, conscious robots are coming) they'd survey my unamused face.
It would be a stretch to say I suffer symptoms of depression from technology failures. That would in and of itself be sad. But I do often find myself bargaining with my devices, "If you just work for me today mate, I'll give you tomorrow off--promise." I've smartened up and now religiously work in the cloud and regularly back up with Time Machine (both which help mitigate the fear of lost data).
Reflecting on how I've felt in the past, I'm reminded of the show Life Stripped Bare, where folks are stripped naked (literally) and have no possessions. Over 21 days contestants are permitted to add one item to their life per day. In one episode a woman had a complete breakdown and quit - explaining she couldn't make it without her iPad.
The attention economy is winning. We all feel the impulse to stay connected which is further amplified by digital networks. Taking technology diets (and dealing with the ensuing withdrawal) is commonplace. And practicing deliberate rhythms of work has itself become a movement.
Today I tend to skip the denial and bargaining (in the past I would tell myself it was time to 'upgrade' or that there is a bigger lesson to be learned). Now I just slide past that pointless banter and get straight to the acceptance part. I like to think of it as easily moving through tension - a worthy principle for living.
The debate of man versus machine continues to escalate. Never has it been easier to start a business, talk to someone in a faraway country, or mobilize a community to take civic action. It's also never been easier to waste time, track our consumer behaviors, or commit crimes from afar. Whichever way you see it, technology will act as a force for good and evil. I'm trying to stay cognizant of my relationship to technology and emphasize the former. But seriously, now I really do need to dash to the Apple store before it closes.