The signs at first were quite subtle: a distracted conversation, late nights to bed, or gentle excuses for a missed rendezvous. How could I be suspicious? We live busy lives and sometimes things get in the way. Sometimes, we all get distracted.
She always swore that her focus was on me, only me. I wanted to believe her, so I believed her. But then things started to go a little too far. The distracted conversations turned into outright spurning; the missed rendezvous were no longer excused away with an “I’m soooo sorry, I’ll never happen again.”
Suddenly it became clear to me. My place had been taken; I was usurped. I had joined the legions — about 67 million at last count — who have become iPad widows and widowers.
If you’re part of this group, you know the narrative. It begins logically enough (“I need it for work”), and then it starts to be used for reading (“It’s so much more convenient than a book!”), finally, you crawl into bed and find it stuffed underneath the pillow (“It’s not what you think, I was just checking my email and looking for new apps!”).
I understand the appeal of new toys as much, or even more, than the next guy. I mean, when Dave at Corsa Cycles told me it was permissible — and maybe even desirable — to bring my new bike to bed the first night I had it, it was only the clean sheets and a stern “over-my-dead-body” that kept it in the garage. And still I’ve been known to whisper endearments into my Stumpjumper’s headset. So I get it, on one level.
But these iPad people are a totally different lot. They cradle and fondle their devices like they’re newborns. While they’re swiping the screen, they sigh and murmur, “It's just so beautiful; so elegant.”
Watch them discover a new app that allows them to do some never-before-needed task, and a look of rapture overcomes them. It’s like they’ve found religion.
I just finished Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs and I think that this is exactly the kind of reaction Jobs was hoping for with the iPad. Jobs’s obsession with the aesthetic and technical aspects of Apple products is staggering, and as a result of that attention, Apple has changed our lives, especially the way we interact with media. I asked a Grade 10 class how they listened to music and every last one of them used an iPod or an iPhone.
I will concede that the iPad is beautiful — and maybe even practical. There’s something to be said for surrounding ourselves with beautiful things. Why shouldn’t our tools be elegant too?
When I ask, “Who’s cooking dinner?” I’ve just got to get used to hearing, “I don’t know. I don’t have an APP-etite for that?”