The New iPad 3

I was in a wonderful old sandwich shop today. It’s probably been around for more than a 100 years, and although I seldom buy anything there—it’s a bit out of my way—I always like going in. The wood is old and dark and the shelves and cutting boards are antique. It’s not affected. It’s just that the owners have never changed anything. I was standing near the cashier when something happened that I’d never seen before. To complete the transaction the cashier had to push a button on the customer’s cell phone. I don’t know cell phones, so I have no idea what was going on. For some reason the customer—a young guy—was quite pleased with this and said, “I feel like I’m in the future,” which made me cringe. I can’t stand enthusiasm for technological gadgets. Then the two started enthusing over the new iPad 3, which Apple had announced just a few hours earlier. Their enthusiasm was mutual and it was real. For once, I wanted just to get my sandwich and get out of there.



22 Responses to “The New iPad 3”

  1. Lynn B. Says:

    Hi Mark,

    I’m curious to learn more about your reaction to others’ enthusiasm for tech gadgets. I don’t care much for gadgets either but I thought your reaction, and the fact that it was important enough to post about, was interesting. Is it because of our preoccupation with stuff that isn’t really “real?” Or because we (as a nation) are obsessed with stuff like the iPad that probably doesn’t contribute much to the spiritual progress of an individual or society? I’d like to know more about what’s behind your reaction to the iPad conversation.

    • markbittner Says:

      People are more enthusiastic about gadgets than they are about what goes on inside themselves. And the world situation, which I believe is more precarious than we realize, grows more and more hopeless as our inner being continues to be covered over by this kind of superficial enthusiasm. That was one motivation. The other was that I spent my weekend on the road and I had some real hassles because I don’t own a cell phone. That doesn’t make sense to me. Owning a cell phone should not be mandatory. We are making our world and our lives too complicated.

  2. Amanda Renee Scribner Torres Says:

    When we get involved with gadgets and the “next new thing”, I think we forget to look at the real world that we live in, and in doing so, we often forget ourselves.

  3. KK Says:

    Well agreed. apple keeps coming up with “new” products consistently. Frankly, it’s all just a marketing scheme, i think. new gadgets are always fun to have, but like you said you lose yourself a little. What’s the newest gadget you’ve got?

  4. JB Says:

    Hi Mark, I understand your cringe. You’ve reminded me of a book I’ve been meaning to borrow:

    You Are Not A Gadget, by Jaron Lanier

    I’m currently reading In Praise of Slowness, by Carl Honoré which has also reminded me of you and your writings.

  5. Darren Shupe Says:

    I suppose I occasionally enjoy playing with new “gadgets,” but I dislike the idea that I should have to depend on them. It’s one thing to be interested in new technology, but another when the success of a transaction depends on the ownership of a cell phone.

    I agree completely that as a society we’re far too obsessed with the new in terms of technological advances as opposed to progress within our own hearts and minds. Within the consumer culture that we currently have, though, that point of view is a tough thing to sell.

    Thanks for the terrific blog, by the way. I’ve been enjoying it for some time without having commented as yet.

  6. Sarah Says:

    Question: What’s the newest gadget you’ve got?

    Answer: A new landline telephone.

    😀 RLOL !!

    I’m just loving this …

  7. Shelley Says:

    I am genuinely excited about my new-to-me 1965 Illinois Bell Telephone turquoise wall phone. So there.

    I love the original sticker that says, “Wait for Dialtone.”

    I love the rotary dial, and using it.

    I love the handset and having to stay tethered by the length of the cord.

    Anyone want to buy an iPhone? 🙂

  8. Amanda Renee Scribner Torres Says:

    I love the old phone at my Dad’s house. That thing is going to last forever! I fondly remember the days when phones weighed 10 pounds, and when you were on the phone, you were ON the phone. No distractions and multitasking because the cord kept you right there and engaged in the conversation.

  9. Brooke Says:

    Hi Mark,
    I have this crazy theory that portable, internet based gadgets are a substitute for the rusty and untrained ability humans have to utilize a psychic network we share with all things and existence itself.

    In Parrots, you talked about how, with the conure that died, it placed emotions into you and you couldn’t talk to anyone for days afterwards. This just happened to me with my Jenday Conure, and somehow I stumbled on your documentary on Netflix Instant a week afterwards. I remember trying to rationalize with my feelings as well, but the reality is that these parrots have more awareness and energy than any human being. I mourned (and still mourn) the death of my Conure like I would a dear friend, or loved one, and no one understood. For days after he died, I saw the world with new eyes, but they’ve become blurred again as I’ve fallen back into my old pattern, particularly with the internet. Have you experienced this also?

    Since seeing Parrots, I no longer believe in coincidences. I’ve been experimenting with combinations of Eastern beliefs and pantheism myself since late high school. I think my use of psychedelics may have scrambled my logical brain up like an egg, but somehow I know more of the truth than I ever could have hoped to, I just can’t translate it. It leaves me more confused than anything, but then again, the effects are still fresh in my memory after only 3 years since my last journey.

    I’m 21, and was raised in this generation. I fear the future of our species. I’m not looking forward to “transcending” into a gadget based society. I feel like birds, parrots, even conures specifically, are a key in finding the answers.
    Look for me in the loony bin,
    Brooke 🙂

    • markbittner Says:

      A few responses to your comment:

      I think people try to use gadgets as a substitute for the psychic network (which even people who don’t believe in it are unconsciously aware of), but it can’t be done. There are people who write manifestos declaring that gadgetry is going to bring us into the Golden Age. But that’s impossible.

      I’ve experienced the blurring you describe. Over and over again. It is a direct result, I think, of staring at an electronic screen. It used to happen to me when I was a kid watching television. Somehow, screens weaken our will, which is what holds us together.

      The scrambling you talk about with psychedelics is a good thing ultimately. We are trained to pursue rationality, which many people believe opens us up. But instead it closes us down. It leaves you with the ability only to take in information. Reality is much more than data. Psychedelics can help break you out of the straight jacket, but their value is limited by the fact that you always come down again. You have to learn to go in that direction naturally. There are times when it’s easier to get there on your own juice. Right now it’s extremely difficult. That will change.

      The gadget-based society will collapse of its own unreality. The only way to survive in the long run is to be alive in the here and now. Gadgets put you in a “virtual reality,” which is a ridiculous, grandiose term. It’s really just plain old illusion.

      And finally: You have good awareness. Keep looking, but don’t push too awfully hard. There’s time. The kind of search it sounds like you’re into does have many dangers. But it’s worth the struggle. If you do things smart, there’s no need to fear ending up in the loony bin. Insanity is optional.

  10. Steve Rhodes Says:

    They may have been using Scoutmob or something like groupon to get a discount on their meal.

  11. anne Says:

    I think the benefits of instant, accessible communication outweigh the negatives. to view any aspect of technology as not “real” is fallacious–you didn’t state that, but others have.

    it’s funny when people–on the internet–complain about the internet, or technology in general. I was listening to the radio online the other day, and a program came up about how “the internet narrows our views” and how disastrous it is for society–a bit ironic, I thought.

  12. Peter in Seattle Says:

    your “wild parrots” movie came up in conversation yesterday (i saw it when it first came out), and a web search led me to your blog. i’ve been enjoying it. this entry made me chuckle, for the same irony struck me as did anne. i know there are times when it can be annoying to hear people enthuse about technology. no one can accuse me of following technological fads: i still listen to LPs (although i also use spotify, i just happen to like records and to have a lot of them); i held out against digital cameras until 2010 when my dad finally got me a little canon G11 (i had been using a manual 35mm film camera since 1980); and not only do i not have a smartphone, i don’t even “text” on my cell phone (c. 2004). and yet, i can certainly understand the joy of seeing something new and exciting. i just got a new digital camera (the Olympus OM-D; a worthy successor to my trusty old OM-1) and i find myself wanting to share my excitement about it with anyone within earshot. 🙂

    what really struck me about this post though, was complaining about technology on an *internet blog*! how quickly we take things for granted! you write as if you’ve been blogging all your life, and suddenly there’s this newfangled, crazy technology out there that’s somehow separate and disconnected from all the sensible, normal technology you use as a matter of course. isn’t it striking how quickly we get used to technology that’s genuinely useful? who knows … maybe that new ipad will stand the test of time, and in a few months we’ll all be wondering how we ever got along without it. (i’m still a holdout, myself! 🙂

    keep up the great blogging. it’s great to be reminded of those parrots again, and of that wonderful film.


    • markbittner Says:

      My position on the discrepancy of complaining about technology on the Internet is that I’m here because that’s where people are currently gathered and I have some things I want to say. But it’s my intention to leave behind this particular campfire one day. For my old age, I dream of having nothing more than a mailbox. No telephone, no internet. Just a mailbox, some good neighbors, and, perhaps, some good telepathy.

    • Peter in Seattle Says:

      a romantic ideal, to be sure … ever been to lopez island? i go there for an annual gathering … people up there are living your dream. 🙂 well, they have phones, so they probably could get internet, but the folks i know there live close to the land and don’t use much tech.

    • markbittner Says:

      I haven’t been to Lopez, no. But I grew up in Washington and lived in Seattle for three years. I’m going up there in a month, the southern end of the state. Long Beach.

  13. Peter in Seattle Says:

    hi mark,

    i just read this:

    and thought you and your readers would appreciate it. it echoes thoughts you’ve expressed.


    • markbittner Says:

      Yes. That’s all right up my alley. The last five years, because of this book, I’ve been busy. But I’m not in as good shape psychologically as I was when I led a slower, more deliberate life.

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