In eight days comes the release of the Apple Watch. As of writing this, more than a million have already been pre-ordered, costing consumers more than $500.00 a pop. Clearly there’s some palpable interest in this object. But why?
Call me a luddite, but I just don’t see what’s so appealing about this object, which is in actuality a dumb-downed version of the iPhone. A cell phone provides you with the time, messaging, maps, a camera, music, games and whatever other capabilities the watch has built into its interface.
If you like having a phone and a watch to tell the time, consider yourself fashionably vain. If it’s for health reasons you can buy fitness bands for around $100, and if you want, you can link those to your phone. If it’s for the activity tracker, the NSA has you covered.
So, what is this object’s practical purpose other than being another fleeting item of rage in our tech-crazed, materialistic culture? Are people looking forward to brandishing it on their wrist to symbolize their luxurious status, or do they just prefer being a walking quasi-androidal advertisement?
In today’s digitized existence, where you can be reached everywhere and at any time, you would think people would feel less alone, but underneath the Facebooking and tweeting and comment boards lies a paradox: loneliness is on the rise in modern societies.
In a recent article in The Guardian written by Olivia Laing, entitled “The Future of Loneliness,” Laing ponders whether or not the idea of being interconnected at all hours is actually alleviating loneliness or exacerbating it. Although we may have the ability to connect, to intertwine our cyber selves, to cross beyond borders, oceans and languages, thinking our mere exposure to others through technology will sate our need for human interaction, the opposite happens: we become acutely aware of our presence in the eyes of others, and the act of being seen produces anxiety, loneliness, such as being in a crowd and realizing you don’t belong, with your feelings of inadequacy and otherness growing in proportion to the amount of faces floating by that you don’t recognize.
“This is where online engagement seems to exercise its special charm. Hidden behind a computer screen, the lonely person has control. They can search for company without the danger of being revealed or found wanting. They can reach out or they can hide; they can lurk and they can show themselves, safe from the humiliation of face-to-face rejection. The screen acts as a kind of protective membrane, a scrim that allows invisibility and transformation. You can filter your image, concealing unattractive elements, and you can emerge enhanced: an online avatar designed to attract likes. But now a problem arises, for the contact this produces is not the same thing as intimacy.”
Won’t the Apple Watch just worsen these issues?
Going off on a tangent, I wonder: If people aren’t already rude enough with how they use their phones, what kind of narcissism is this object is going to create? Picture you’re having dinner with someone and they get a message. Or they receive an email at the climax of a film in a movie theater. Say you’re walking down the sidewalk into a horde of consumers gazing at the schedules blinking on their wrists. Before they’d have to go through the motions of being discourteous. But now there’s no effort required to be impolite – just look downwards and blink vapidly. Rudeness is now another limb.
I may seem like an alarmist, but I’m not the only one who’s skeptical about this object. In a recent CNBC poll, only 3.2 percent who answered said they were planning on buying the watch. But then again, that’s just a poll, and when prices drop, who knows how many people will run to the stores and shell out their cash for a high-end knick-knack?
I guess my entire rant could’ve been summed up more succinctly by a famous quote in Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club: “The things you own end up owning you.”