(I’m on a laptop, motherfrakker!)
Yes, I now own a shiny new Apple laptop, a stark contrast to my utterly archaic second generation iPod Touch, and iMac from 2008; you couldn’t even download a more recent operating system than iOS 5 on that first one, dahling.
And while I’m enjoying using this new technological doo-dad, there is a part of me that reasons that this birthday present, for all its expense and afternoon spent setting it up, will allow me to do little more than play Football Manager in a slightly more comfortable chair, at least until I bugger off to University in October. It appears that we in our culture give equal importance to the means with which we do things – a computer to play a video game – as we do the things that we ultimately do – I didn’t ask or receive a new video game this year, that could be played on my laptop.
You can also see this in most aspects of technology; mobile phones only allow you to talk to other people, and all the software updates, hands-free headsets and Apple innovations in the world are unlikely to change the fact that advances in phone technology will not qualitatively change the ultimate function of those phones.
Except that they do; phones can now play video games. Ovens can tell the time. Acoustic guitars can come with built-in tuners for God’s sake. All this means that we are blurring the lines between the tasks that our various devices and gadgets do, to the point of futility; I overheard a guy on the bus asking why buses now tell the time, when almost everyone has a smartphone, or an archaic iWatch predecessor known as a ‘wristwatch’ that would serve such a purpose as well, if not better?
It seems that change itself is enough of a reason for these developments to take place; it doesn’t matter if we all have nine gadgets that do the same thing, because we could all have a tenth, so let’s spend some more money! Hooray!
It’s also worth noting that few of these developments are actually new developments; buses and ovens can tell the time, but the Sun’s been doing that for us since the literal dawn of humanity, and the App Store only provides the same service for people that stores like HMV and Game have been doing for decades. I’d even argue that the invention of the smartphone wasn’t that innovative, because phones became a hub of communication, gaming and the Internet, rather than serving a totally new purpose, unique to smartphones.
And this laptop is no different; it’s a computer on one’s lap, which is desirable for some reason: ‘Wow, look how portable it is!’, we cry (I once took my 20-inch iMac, in its box, to a friend’s house); ‘The keyboard is so easy to use!’, we gush (the same iMac keyboard served me perfectly for five years); ‘It’s so thin!’, we sigh (because I was so concerned about the width of my old computer that I bought it a month’s gym membership, four WeightWatchers DVDs and a £20 voucher for a vegetarian restaurant in central London, from the ‘iMacs, not Big Macs’ menu).
You could even say that this has led to a decrease, not an increase, in innovative ideas, as to ‘progress’ now means to ‘chuck existing features and ideas onto a black rectangle slightly thinner than the one we released last lear’, rather than actually create something from scratch.
But I can’t really moan about it, as I point out the flaws of buying a laptop alongside a perfectly good computer, here on my laptop as my perfectly good computer sits idly next to me; once I port my iTunes library and Football Manager saves across I won’t have any use for the poor, clunky bastard, meaning I’ll simply discard it like the Top Trumps cards, Scalextric sets and feverishly-collected football stickers of my childhood. Awesome American band Icon For Hire summed this phenomenon up pretty well in their song Pop Culture: ‘We all act like we see right through it, when we all know we’re addicted to it’.
But thanks to my parents for buying this for me; I wouldn’t want so seem ungrateful or anything.