Saturday, September 15, 2012

the iPhone 5 and the need for decent debate



Last Wednesday saw the launch of the latest iPhone. It is a phone I have waited for since I went out of contract and it is a phone I *think* I'll get. I say I *think* because I’m not entirely convinced about the change in dock connector. That aside... it looks like a good phone and Internet device. I am an Apple fan and am somewhat tied into their ecosystem... so the iPhone makes sense to me.

This, however, is not the point of this post. The point is to comment on all the hate that I’ve witnessed upon the phone’s release. You don't need to go far to see it... a wee trip to the BBC’s news site will be enough.

Apple fans vs non-Apple fans... fighting it out to convince themselves and others that they are right and the other is wrong. Scary.

It scares me for three reasons:

Firstly, we have lost the art of a decent debate. There is no such thing as politeness, decency or graciousness in these arguments. It's all “i’m right and you are wrong... and here’s why”. I genuinely wish I had the self-belief of some folks but I don't... certainly not when it comes to phones. I mean... the iPhone is a good phone... it does a number of things well but it doesn't do everything that everyone wants. It works for me and all the other “sheeple” that buy it... but compared to *this* phone with *that* feature... it's not the best. I can and do acknowledge both the flaws in what I like and the better features of the other ’thing’ but most don't and this is worrying. Everything is black and white.
The way the ’other’ is abstracted is also worrying in these arguments... I've already used one term thrown at Apple fans. The minute we depersonalise the ’other’ we have lost our humanity... our compassion... our reasonableness. Android fans are not the devil incarnate... they are normal folks who have a different preference. If I can't or don't want to see this then I have failed.
I know this full well after referring to folks who watch “Hollyoaks” as morons. A couple of people who I love and trust called me out on this... because they were watchers of Hollyoaks and were most definitely NOT morons.

Secondly, I see an overwhelming need for people to prove, through argument, that they are right and the other is wrong - it's like their whole being is made up of being *against* something. This worries me because I have never conceded anything by being shouted at. I concede points through conversation and decent debate but never through such vitriolic hate. I see it in our politics, and it is commonplace in the expressions I hear of faith and non-faith within the public domain.
Atheism is perceived as being all about standing *against* the notion of deity... and being *against* the tyranny of organised religion... and whilst it is *for* many things - science and human endeavour, for example - it is known primarily as being anti-religion.
Conservative Christians seem to define themselves by what they stand *against* (abortion, evolution and gay marriage being three key areas) instead of what they stand *for*.
Why can't we be known for what we stand for rather than what we stand against? Why is such an emphasis placed on what we do NOT stand for?

Lastly, I am not defined by any *thing*... I am defined by who I am. This is key to this whole post. I may be an Apple fan but it doesn’t define me. What defines me is the relationships I have and the art I create. This will be my legacy. I want on my gravestone that I was a loved husband, father, son, and friend... who made the world a better place through what he brought into it. That's what I want. I don't want to be remember for being an Apple fan... certainly not as the main thing folks remember.
I love my Apple tools. I love my Moleskine and Rhodia notebooks. I love my Bic pens and my Manhattan Portage bags. But these things are tools... a means to an end... a means to creation and the sustaining of relationships. Nothing more. Let’s get this straight: I am not the sum total of all my tools but the sum total of all my experiences. We all are. It's time we realised this.

Tx

PS I see the irony in me going on about folks who think they are right and the ’other’ is wrong... and then closing this post in the manner I have. If you think I am wrong then please engage me in a decent debate. I may be wrong. It happens more often than I would like to acknowledge. Speak to my wife... she knows this. This is what I think. Don't take as being gospel... think it through for yourself... challenge the ideas if you need to but don't accept it as anything other than my opinion.
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