The Curse of Steve Jobs

by M.J. Hearle

I have an enemy.

It is one, but many. Legion. I’ve watched this enemy systematically possess and corrupt my loved ones. It is a foul tempter; a purveyor of empty delights.

Behold, my enemy’s face!

Chilling, no? The face of evil; sexy, shiny, synthetic and utterly devoid of emotion. Kind of like a Kardashian. No, doubt you’ve come across my enemy. Perhaps, you even call it friend?

It is not your friend.

The iPhone is an attention thief and nothing more. Oh, sure it’s great being able to access information on pretty much anything you like whenever you want it, but haven’t you got enough on your mind already? Do you really need to add to the load? Is it that imperative to check Facebook or your email 24/7? People managed just fine a couple of years ago without this luxury. Jobs were not lost, friendships were maintained. You wouldn’t think so by the anxious way iPhone owners constantly have to have it in sight. Go to a pub or café and count how many phones you see gracing tabletops like futuristic ashtrays. But all this is academic, the reason I hate the iPhone is because it is destroying readers, and stifling the birth of new ones.

As a writer, this bothers me. As a passionate reader it horrifies me.

There is a stack of books on my bedside table. Books I have given to my fiancée
to read over the past couple of months. Great books, stirring stories, the stuff that makes the soul sing. Treasures, each and every one of them. Yet, they go unread. While I lie next to her, blissfully lost in another author’s imaginings (at the moment Franzen’s Freedom), she is staring into that little oblong box, frantically devouring more and more information with the fervour of Al Pacino in Scarface bent over his mountain of coke. I suspect she’s not the only one.

Look, I get it – technology’s great. I like being able to watch Youtube clips of pugs sleeping as much as anybody, but the vicarious pleasure an iPhone offers – the internet offers really – is fleeting when compared to a good book. It’s like a kiss in the dark from a stranger compared to a long and satisfying relationship.

The soulless progeny of Steve Jobs might offer the world in the palm of your hand, but books have been doing that for centuries. Not just this world – other worlds, worlds that need more than 640 x 480 pixels, worlds that can’t be described in binary code. iPhones are windows; books are doors.

When was the last time you opened one?

M. J.

PS. If you read books on your iPhone this rant does not apply to you. It’s the words that matter, not how you read them.

PPS. If anyone from Apple wishes to try and sway my opinion on the iPhone, I dare them to send me one.