2 min

iLove you, but it’s complicated

Last weekend at Bar Mercurio, as the Santa Claus Parade paraded past, I argued my mother out of buying an iPhone. I did this, mind you, while my own iPossession sat smugly on the table.

“You don’t need one,” I explained. “You don’t even use a computer more than once a week.”

An iPhone, I contended, is a purchase that should be made as part of a larger techno love — specifically, some level of Apple product love.

Which is true. But it sort of begs the question: so what if my mom wants an iPhone?

I can’t help but think that this breakfast debate was linked to my own troubled feelings about my personal connection to technology — which came up recently when I read in the news feed of my Facebook app that Apple had added the Manhattan Declaration app to its roster.

The Manhattan Declaration is a means for subscribers of a “Christian Conscience” [sic] to officially declare specific Christian values. In signing, you agree that you will “not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia… [or] bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent.”

Technically, you don’t sign. You just give them your name, address and email. And it has one of those “type these blurry letters here” fields, presumably so the Manhattan Declaration isn’t inundated with “lengthen your penis” spam.

That same week, Apple announced the hard-won addition of the Beatles’ catalog to its collection. I spent a pretty Apple penny on said tunes, happily forking over my money to a company that saw little issue with combining the vibes of “Here Comes the Sun” (the most downloaded Beatles song on iTunes, according to, with online fearmongering.

(As a side note, I considered whether the Beatles/Manhattan thing was ironic, but I’m pretty sure it’s not. If you have experience with the literal definition of irony — as opposed to the Alanis Morissette definition of irony — and you disagree, feel free to send me your comments.)

There’s also the small matter of Apple’s professed allegiance to keeping its App Store PG, deleting material it sees as a threat to its wholesome reputation. But no matter.

Needless to say, the week my mom decided she wanted an iPhone, I was feeling pretty weird about my own iPhone-need.

In the documentary Public Speaking, Fran Lebowitz comments that, as one of the few people who does not own a cellphone, she can walk the streets of New York City and really be present on those streets.

The problem, she notes, with cellphone culture is that it keeps us buried in our phones instead of thinking about the real world.

Unlike Lebowitz, I spend a lot of time buried in my phone — which, lately, is starting to feel like an excess of time spent in the house of someone who is both a great entertainer and a quixotic jerk.

The kind of jerk who, several days after the Manhattan app made its appearance on iTunes, quietly removed it. The kind of jerk more concerned with policies of theft and distribution — and presumably bad press — than anti-discrimination.

My Apple-mixed-feelings week was topped by a minor accident in which I dropped my iPhone. I heard a horrible cracking sound and noticed that my phone had fallen out of my pocket. Its protective case had, protectively, cracked open, sacrificing itself for the sake of my phone, which suffered only minor scuffs.

Which was pretty much a huge fucking relief.

Which is to say that, yes, I am conflicted. No, I’m not ready to give it up yet. But I’m thinking about it. A lot.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying my favourite Beatles downloads, “I’m Looking Through You” and “Don’t Let Me Down.”