I was idly strolling through my local shopping centre one evening when I noticed the obscenely large, gleaming Apple sign winking down at me and I spontaneously decided to pop into the shop and have a quick look around.
As I stepped into the perimeter of the shop, the atmosphere instantly changed and a quiet lull descended. People were delicately stepping around the shop, their footsteps falling in tune to astonished gasps of amazement as they passed each bigger and better Apple product. Apple shop assistants walked purposefully around the shop, hands clasped devoutly around their preferred piece of Apple technology, blue t-shirts brightly singling them out as those illustrious beings, blessed with divine insight into the inner world of Apple. In the far corner there was a confession in progress as a distressed gentleman poured out his latest problem with his new iPad while the shop assistant nodded gravely, offered sympathetic words of wisdom, told the gentleman to type in his password twelve times and then absolved him of his problem. In another corner, a young lady was sitting in Apple school as yet another smiling shop assistant taught her the ins and outs, as well as the basic rules, of the Mac computer. Beyond this, a patient queue of devout Apple followers stood, all waiting their turn to speak to one of the eminent Apple employees who would undoubtedly fix all their problems.
This mystifying atmosphere of adoration that cloaks Apple has led me down a path of uncanny parallels. I have visited many adored religious structures of our world, from the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence to Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Blue Mosque in Turkey to Al-Aqsa mosque in Palestine, and the dominant sense of awe and adoration, wonder at witnessing something that is beautiful, divine and precious all at once, is strangely always apparent in Apple shops worldwide. How has a company selling a mere product, managed to change the game so dramatically?
And there is no question about it; Apple has most certainly changed the game unequivocally. In the consumerist world we have created for ourselves, companies and businesses are always vying for our attention and money, yet somehow, this particular company has got not only into our purses and wallets, but into the very fabric of our hearts, creating a personal bond of worship and loyalty. It is a company that has an entire legion of followers that are professed and devout ‘Mac Heads’. Every new product that is released is a new chapter in the gospel of Apple and the Church of Mac gains more and more believers. They live their lives by the apps and systems that Apple provides and if, Apple forbid, one breaks, they seek out their hallowed sanctity, confer with one of the Apple shop assistants that walk in the light, fix their product, bless the ‘cloud’ for backing up all their information, and carry on with their day.
As far as Apple disciples go, I am not overly religious, but I definitely believe in the higher power. A non-practicing believer if you will. After spending most of my formative years, a devout Blackberry follower, I converted to Apple, had my christening (my first Apple product) and plunged into a whole new world of beautiful efficiency where everything just…worked. There is a certain seamless efficiency about their products that does have the tendency to take your breath away. After spending over twenty minutes trying to Google local cinema times on a blackberry, it can be somewhat thrilling to be able to Google, book, and pay for my cinema trip within three minutes on an iPhone. Not to mention that in this time I have also Tweeted about it, tagged everyone who is coming on Facebook as well as booked what restaurant we are going to afterwards and found discount vouchers on one of my various Apps. I marvelled at its genius and was welcomed into the church of Mac.
Just like all religions however, there are those who would oppose Apple, disagreeing with the doctrines and teachings it preaches and not everyone is so willingly happy to jump on the Apple band wagon. In all fairness, there is a reasonable argument to be made about resisting consumerist, commercial takeover, lack of individuality and avoidance on Apple’s part to take on a corporate responsibility to those underpaid souls who actually piece together the products we pay so much for in the West. Last year Apple’s net profits came in over $11.6 billion and although I am no business mastermind, I am more than certain they can afford to pay their production line in China more than £1.12 per hour. Apple sold over 35 million iPhones in 2012 so any aspirations of individuality have most definitely flown out of the window. Yet then again, Apple is not about individuality and unique phones, instead it is about joining one big happy family.
Despite underpaid workers, overpriced products and an overcrowded band wagon, I still cannot help but love my iPhone unconditionally. I am attached to it in what I suspect is a rather unhealthy relationship as I am more than happy to ignore the people sitting around me and instead look through my new apps and Tweet the idle thoughts that drift unceremoniously through my brain. With iPhone in hand, there is a delicate balance and easy efficiency to my world.
Last week I experienced what can only be described as every Apple follower’s worst nightmare; my iPhone broke and my world came crashing down around me. In the midst of a most pleasant FaceTime conversation my Wi-Fi connection was suddenly lost and I was cruelly severed off from those that I loved mid conversation. To my credit, I remained calm and went through the normal procedures in the event of an emergency; turned Wi-Fi off, turned it on, reset my router, turned phone off, turned phone on and patiently waited for my world to become connected on a global level once more. It quickly became apparent that this strategy was not yielding any success and suddenly a rising panic began to take over. I tasted the bile in my mouth and the beads of sweat began to break out on my forehead. Hands shaking nervously, I dug out my laptop and began to ‘Google’ my problem in the hope that there would be some jewel of information that would help me set my world to rights.
Of course I must add that my first task was to log onto Facebook and update my status, just so the world would know the difficult and trying times I was experiencing. Between Google and the rush of sympathetic condolences and titbits of advice that was left on my Facebook status, I concurred that I should back up my phone and reset it to its factory settings. Trying desperately to regulate my breathing and remember all my first aid training about heart attacks and seizures, I did my best to resuscitate my poor broken phone. This nerve racking operation only resulted in a still broken phone, and a wiped phone of all data.
I sat and stared at the screen blankly, praying to Apple that this was all a bad dream, taking in huge gulps of air in an attempt to block out the tears that were threatening to fall. I was then forced to endure several hours of nail biting agony as I waited for the sun to rise and life to begin. Waking from a restless slumber, I automatically reached to check my notifications informing me of Tweets, Facebook posts and good morning WhatsApp messages from loved ones, only to be bitterly disappointed as I remembered the horrific events of the previous night. A heaved a sigh and with a heavy heart I began to prepare for my day. This was done in silence as I couldn’t play my usual morning music through my YouTube app. On the bus journey to work I stared out of the window in desolate sadness, unable to open my BBC news app and read the morning news. The world seemed dull and little, the clouds were grey and ominous and the birds were still, their song seemingly silenced by the very weight of my heavy heart.
Arriving at the office I bewailed my unfortunate situation to my colleagues who, all faithful iPhone users, shared shocked sympathies and assured me they were ‘there for me’. For the rest of the morning I nervously kept an eye on the clock, unable to focus on my work. In due course I took a deep breath, and warmed with the well wishes and prayers of my colleagues, I set off to pour my heart out to one of the angels of Apple. The understanding Apple assistant who was hearing my confession on this particular day was a vision in blue and in a matter of minutes, just like a magic magician or some high and mighty priest, he had swapped my broken phone for a new one and restored all my lost data from iCloud. I was left feeling weak kneed with relief as I sat and watched all my information return to me once more. I practically skipped back to my office while birds chirped, flowers bloomed and I’m certain there was a violin playing somewhere. My triumph and happiness was celebrated by all in the office and life could once more resume with a perfect, happy grace.
Later on throughout the week I regaled family and friends with my traumatic and harrowing experience, and as they ooooed and ahhhhed in sympathy, my mother shot me a scathing look and wondered how she ended up with a daughter so tragically pathetic. Now as an astute and well educated individual, I stopped to consider my mother’s pragmatic sensibility and wondered at how ridiculously pathetic it was that I was so emotionally attached to this small mechanical devise. After all, no one had died, it is only a phone and I still have my good health. But I paused to consider is it really ‘just a phone?’ Everyone uses their iPhone differently, but for me, there is a wealth of information and personal details saved to my phone. Physical paper copies of documents have long gone missing and instead I have all the information I need saved in various apps. As a writer I have novel ideas, odd paragraphs and scribbled sentences in a host of apps on my phone. Sentimental messages have been saved in various folders and addresses and recipes collected from numerous corners of the world. All these things exist in my technological world only and the very thought of losing such a large collection of information and ideas sent my heart rate spinning out into a vortex of panic and distress.
Although I can recognise that it is somewhat ridiculous to be so attached to my phone, an inanimate object, the fact remains that I am, and like some crazy new version of crack, Apple has gotten me hooked. I am a self-professed phone addict and I find it difficult to prise my iPhone from the clutch of my hand. Whether or not you choose to speak against it, take a bite out of the Apple or to become a fervent worshiper, the company has created something around it that is next to impossible for other companies to re-create. It has an idolised status at I have only seen emulated in places of worship and a magical eminence that is worthy of Narnia and Hogwarts combined. Apple has always considered itself a revolutionary force that would change the world, and it certainly has; but what change is it really bringing?