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By Brett Landry

“iPad is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iPad creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.” – January 27th, 2010

Ok – you’ve seen an iPad. You may own an iPad. Chances are, some of you are reading this on an iPad. So what’s the big deal with the way the late, great Steve Jobs introduced the iPad to us? Notice, he doesn’t call it an iPad. He doesn’t call it the iPad. He merely calls it, iPad. Apple is genius in this.

Apple treats all of their products this way. In their product launches and press releases, Apple doesn’t use the definite article when speaking of their products; they consistently personify their products. They speak of them like people.

This is the personification of a commodity, which makes us think the product will increase the quality of our lives and add a dimension to life that we are currently missing. It gives the product a personality, which is appealing. (Think of Siri on the iPhone 4S, she is always nice to you, right?) This is slick marketing, and it works, but this isn’t what I want to talk about.

We tend to do the opposite of personifying commodities. We commodify people and use them for our gain. We treat human beings like new products or tools that can make us more effective.

As folks much smarter and well spoken than me have said for a long time, if we want to understand God, we must look at Jesus. And if we want to understand what it means to be fully human, we must look at Jesus.

But we have a two-fold problem with this in the 21st century: first, for the most part we have a skewed cultural view of Jesus, and therefore we misunderstand who God is, but this isn’t what we are engaging in this post.

The second problem we face is our propensity to pillage the idea of being fully human by selling-out those around us into the idea that one’s worth is intrinsically connected to what they can do for us. We’ve bought into the idea that we are defined by what we do, and therefore, we have bought into the idea that the identities of others are based on what they can do for us.

While smart marketers and admen are ascribing personalities to the products they are creating, we as human beings are depersonalizing people and viewing them as resources to assist is in achieving our success.

When we commodify people, we are raping them of their God-given humanity and are enslaving them in a system of unequal reciprocity. We are a culture of takers, only giving what we must. This is not the way of the Kingdom.

When it becomes acceptable to use people and love things, we have created a new system of modern social slavery where we no longer connect with one another on the basis of sacrificial love, but on the basis of the desire for mutual self-gain.

It is dehumanizing and will only serve to further propagate the distanced, paranoid individuality that we so foolishly call freedom, and will cause us to withdraw further and further from the community that is so desperately needed, retreating into our accustomed loneliness and isolation.

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