upper room daily devotions

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

why can't enough be enough? my musings on consumerism, wanting, and the iphone

For Christmas I received the one thing that I wanted all year long - a video ipod. I love digital stuff. If it's cooler, quicker, and easier I want it. It's a fun way to be; it's also a little frustrating, given all of the competing technologies that are available. So, now I have a BlackBerry and a video ipod. I wondered, "Why can't these be smushed together into one thing? Well, at least I have two of the coolest things that I've seen." And then...the iphone was unveiled. What is Apple trying to do, give me a heart attack? My mouth began watering, my eyes got rounder, my pupils dilated. My hand reached out to touch the picture of the new iphone on my computer screen. "Must have," my greedy brain chanted, even grunted. Why isn't what I have enough for me? Given that I just received the one thing that I've wanted all year, what is happening in me? I feel as though I've betrayed the goodness of my cute little video ipod. It does everything it's supposed to and more. Why have I turned my emotional back on it?

We live in an upgrade world. It seems that every time I purchase something, I buy it a little too early and an upgrade is announced a month later, or I purchase it too late and something completely new is just around the corner. When I spend 2, 3, 4, or 500 dollars on something, I'd like it to be relevant for just a little while. But even beyond that, why are these little toys so important to someone who claims to desire a simple life, led by the example of Jesus, and filled with the passion of the Holy Spirit?

There seems to be a pretty big disconnect going on. Cable isn't enough, digital cable isn't enough, my ipod isn't enough. I need the DVR, need the laptop, need the MacBook, need the BlackBerry, need the vidio ipod, need the hybrid car, need the scooter for short trips, need snowshoes for two trips a year, need, need, need. But these aren't needs. These are wants. And mostly, they are greedy little wants. They remind me that I have a constant struggle inside my heart that pulls me into the consumerism of the hyper-abundance of America and the simplicity of the message of the gospel.

The iphone is now the icon of my meditations. I'm not yet sure whether it symbolizes heaven or hell. It seems to do everything wonderfully. That should be heavenly, right? But it seems to symbolize all that tempts me. Well, that indicates someplace else.

For those who can withstand temptation, see the whole thing at www.apple.com.


Mystical Seeker said...

The more rapidly technology changes, the harder it seems to be to keep up with it. It becomes an endless cycle of consumption. I am just like everyone else--my mouth often waters at new technologies. But the ever-spiraling cycle of change in consumer technology is just too hard to keep up with. It makes me want to embrace simplicity even more, although in practice I do selectively go for some new technologies that come along. For example, I own a non-Apple MP3 player that I love.

But more and more it becomes a necessity to, first, selectively choose what new technologies you want. It is impossible to have them all, and it is even more impossible to be up-to-date with them all. Some of my technology is going to be old fashioned or out of date, but the things that I know I will specifically enjoy are the ones I do buy--like the MP3 player.

It does make me think about the whole concept of simplicity, though--living a simple life. I have a 19-year-old car with over 200,000 miles. I keep thinking I should get a new one, and some day it will just break down for good. But maybe we need to consider more carefully our high tech purchases and the ways that we can make our life simpler.

rev katie m ladd said...

Well put!

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