The iLife: It Feels Like Someone Else’s Life, But it’s My Life

Apple iPad 2, iPhone 4, MacBook Pro, Apple TV, AirPort ExtremeAfter going back and forth for several months between lusting after an iPad 2 and being indifferent about it, I finally grew tired of the seesaw of desires and surrendered my credit card. What’s unsettling is not only am I the owner of a shiny new iPad 2, but now I’m one of those weirdos who has the entire range of the Apple-branded revolution gadgets in my home. While these products are fun and exciting to play with, I can’t help but feel a bit like a conformist. I’ve become that latte-sipping, croissant-munching stereotype that people love to hate.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my new iPad. It totally rules. I’m writing this part of the post with it right now. And I could care less what people think when they see me nibbling pastries and slurping espresso with an Apple product in front of me. I unabashedly love café food and drink, and I happily shed every iota of self-consciousness years ago. However, the thing that nags at me is that I used to live a life somewhat free of technology. I loved cappuccino and muffins with equal bravado, but I didn’t own a single gadget, and everything was perfectly wonderful.

In the 1990’s the only thing I cared about in the world was making lo-fi indie rock. Now the same music that I obsessed over so ardently exists mainly as little content files inside these iDevices. I used to be very suspicious of any musical equipment that had digital components. I always made a point of using tube amplifiers, magnetic tape and solid state everything.

Now my iPhone 4 alarm app wakes me up in the morning and I quickly check the Weather Channel app to figure out what to wear and if I should leave with an umbrella or not. I get to work and read Engadget first thing so I can be up on the latest meaningless tech news, and I also read in a vain attempt to remotely peek inside of Steve Jobs’ brain.

Why do I subject myself to this torture and then quasi-complain about it in a blog post? Am I a brainwashed cult member? Am I a zombie? Nope. I have two simple explanations… Number one: I find this stuff really interesting. Number two: I just like how Apple hardware feels. Seriously. As eye-opening as it has been to own an iPad for a few days and really start to understand how it makes little parts of your life better, I have to confess that I’m equally compelled by how it feels when I glide my fingertips along its glass edges.

Do I feel like a sucker? In some respects, yes. I’m sure I have an evil twin out there somewhere who owns a meager Windows laptop, a $20 wireless router, a buy-one-get-one-free Android phone, and a 16GB Asus Transformer tablet. They would likely scoff at the idea of buying all Apple gear, and they would probably have a lot more money in their savings account than I do.

HP Touchpad and the Apple iPad 2
Take the Angry Birds challenge! The HP TouchPad vs. the iPad 2: thicker, heavier, less responsive, and for some reason zoomed in on the birds- making aiming far more difficult.

But, this is the life I have chosen, and that’s okay with me. There are lots of different companies out there working really hard to make tablet computers to compete for your cash. I personally test drove many of the latest models. I swiped my fingers across them, I spun them around, and I played Angry Birds whenever possible. At the end of the day I gave my big chunk of money to Apple. There are just so many more interesting apps to discover, the response of the touch screen is still the fastest in the industry, and there’s something about the hardware that makes it feel like it’s sprinkled with unicorn dust.

Am I downloading HD movies and zapping them from the iPad to my Apple TV when I walk in the living room? No. Am I making Face Time calls and seeing my loved one’s in real time? No. So far my experience with the iPad 2 has mostly been about productivity. It’s helping me keep ideas organized, and I’m using it to write as often as I can. I’ve regrettably been sucked into a silly penguin video game a few times, but all in all having this gadget has been beneficial. It will never be as engaging, exploratory and expressive as a basic acoustic guitar, but it’s still a welcome addition to my iLife… as alien as it all still feels.

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Writer, musician, photo taker and video maker. When not writing somewhat longish articles for this blog, I write incredibly short things on Twitter: @SamMallery

2 thoughts on “The iLife: It Feels Like Someone Else’s Life, But it’s My Life”

  1. It always seemed to me that the more gadgets we have, the less happy we get. I like some gadgets but I will never let Apple or any other manufacturer take over my life like this… It just feels too empty. But that’s just me.

  2. @Rafael Agreed, you shouldn’t let gadgets become the center of your life. The nice thing about an array of Apple devices — MacBook, iPad, iPhone — is that because they “simply work,” they fade into the background and let you go about living, connecting with others and creating. They never take over your life.

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