Image: AP

Most people just go along with whatever life hands them. No critical thought. For years I asked people, “Why do I need an iPhone?” Haven’t yet met the man nor woman who could give me a straight answer.

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“Seems like all these Apple products cost twice as much as the other stuff,” I’d say. “What gives?” All I got in reply was a wave of white noise. Something about viruses. People just want to fit into the crowd. Don’t want to make waves. Whatever the popular girl in class has, everyone else needs to have it. So on and so forth. Next thing you know everybody I knew had an I phone except for me. Not having received any explanation as to why I too should have one, I refrained. If I wanted to be “Mister Popular” I never would have chosen a career as a crusading journalist, so why should I worry about what brand of telephone every Tom, Dick, and Harry has in his pants pocket?

For years I paid $55 a month for a Virgin Mobile phone and life was just fine. Then I suffered from the common ailment of GREED. Though I had what was sufficient, I wanted more. I wanted the shiny baubles that modern society produces as a bitter trade for the isolation of post-industrial life. I wanted to get reception on my phone in more places. I went and bought myself an iPhone.

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You would have thought that I had done something of moral worth. “Hey, I see you have the ‘i message’ now,” my idiot friends would text me. The day I meet a man who can give me one good reason why it’s better to have my text messages be in blue instead of green, I’ll vote for that man for president. He doesn’t exist, folks. I’ve come to find out that I didn’t just buy an iPhone; I bought myself a set of chains. The chains are shaped like an iPhone—and they bind me to a big, huge phone bill. In this case the phone bill is a metaphorical boulder, and I am chained to it.

One hundred dollars a month for cell phone service? Do I own this phone—or does the phone own me?

Rather than buying an iPhone perhaps I should have spent more time dealing with the “I” that matters—me, inside.

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It makes phone calls. It sends text messages. It takes photos. It has the apps. It sure seems to me like this “new iPhone” does exactly the same things that my old phone did. The biggest difference? I’m paying $45 a month more for it. That’s more than $500 a year. If I invested that money each year for the next 20 years at a modest 5% rate of return I’d have myself enough money to buy a new jet ski for me and one for my cousin, too. Instead, I have a phone that sends text messages in blue rather than green. Is an iPhone more fun than two jet skis? Don’t answer that question—for your own sake.

Life is hard and all the only things that are really important are peace, justice, and love. The world is full of people who’ve found that they can make a pretty penny exploiting the fundamental desire for love that we all have inside of us. Around every dark corner lurks a hustler or conniver ready to promise you that their pricey bauble will fill that hole inside of you. Seems like you can even build the world’s biggest company that way.

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Full disclosure: I’m not the first one to write a story about just how much an Apple can cost. That would be a couple by the name of Adam and Eve. They found out the hard way—and it seems that we’re still learning the hard way today. I shall suffer for my GREED. I shall pay the high bill for years to come. But it will all be worth it if one person can learn from my mistake.

You don’t need an iPhone. It’s just a phone that does basically the same stuff as every other cell phone. Spend more time reading philosophy and less time worrying about what is or isn’t in the latest telephone. In philosophy you can find some wisdom—and you just might find a little happiness, too. (It makes you sound smart and you can use this facade to attract a mate. Nobody wants to mate with someone known only for being “the iPhone kid.”)