Apr 12, 2015

The Case Against The Apple Watch: Silicon Valley’s Latest [Privacy] Killer App

The Apple Watch is the next frontier of the intrusive Apple ecosystem that is infiltrating our privacy, liberty, and the very sense of self. For most tech start-ups these days, there has been almost an inevitable evolution from passively collecting user data, to using that data for targeted advertising (manipulation) and the Apple Watch is the latest “killer app”, fresh off Silicon Valley’s profit-obsessed assembly line to help the Apple ecosystem further manipulate our consumption choices under the disguise of “efficiency”, cool design, and hype.

Let’s be honest: Apple is no longer a technology company, it’s an ecosystem [loved by Wall Street and worshiped by consumers] trying to passively manipulate every aspect of our lives and choices through technologies that encourage, facilitate, and nudge more consumption. In this sense, the Apple ecosystem is increasingly resembling a religion or a cult with its ever evolving and advancing sacred hardware/software updates/upgrades, prophet (Steve Jobs), sacred shrine (the new Apple HQ) and obsessive followers.

After all in today’s secularist world, brands have replaced traditional religions and consumerism/shopping are the new religious traditions and prayer: a repetitive ritual with the illusion of happiness as the end to its means; The irony being: the ritual itself becomes the end and the means since the promised end for religion (god) and consumerism (happiness) are merely illusions. But though our modern day liberal hipster hanging out at a coffee shop near Dolores park in San Francisco will laugh at the notion of god or traditional religions, he has fully immersed himself in the Silicon Valley tech cults with their techno-prophets (Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Uber’s CEO) and saviors, saving the world one app at a time. World hunger and cancer are so yesterday, instant services and the sharing economy with a hint of cause marketing are the emerging chapters in the capitalist bible.

The Apple Watch makes it easier to buy stuff while tracking my fitness, the best of both worlds. I can be a very healthy and smart consumer. Uber is an uber-capitalist company with no regards for its employed “contractors” or customers but who cares, it makes money via a cool app so its typical liberal hipster consumer is happy and so are the profit-obsessed VC firms that fund Uber. The tech ecosystems are designed for one purpose only, and that’s to make money. Negative side effects may include: inequality, privacy violations, low wages, poverty, debt, and attention-deficit disorder.

So should I buy the Apple Watch? When I purchase an iPhone, I am no longer just buying a “smartphone” but rather buying into the Apple ecosystem through iCloud, iTunes, Apple Pay, iMessage, and Apple Watch. Just like the god of the bible is always in my head, watching every act, judging every thought and directing every decision, the Apple ecosystem is recording, analyzing, nudging and manipulating every decision, thought or emotion. At least the god of the bible is of my imagination’s own making while the Apple god is real. However, irony has it, that both systems (traditional religions, consumerism) are very much compatible with American liberal democracy. Freedom of expression: please, freedom of choice (free of media/marketing/advertising/political propaganda influence): not so much.

So what’s my case against the Apple Watch? The Apple Watch is just another unnecessary and annoying “cool” gadget, further intruding and invading our freedom of choice and thinking. I want less information not more. I don't care to be constantly reminded of the weather outside (I want to be surprised), my countless irrelevant business meetings, or annoying reminders that make me feel important or wanted.

Our relationship with internet technologies and connected devices is increasingly leading to more : 1) Narcissism (I am important because of the attention I receive via email, social media, text messages, etc.) 2) Distraction (I need to distract my self-reflective eye from the “I” not to ponder on my problems, insecurities, and fears by occupying it with viral, entertaining web content).

I am not naive here to suggest that there was a pre-technology era when life was “authentic” or “meaningful”. No, life has never been meaningful or authentic, whatever those terms even mean (What does it mean for something to mean something anyway?). Life is merely a chaotic and incoherent reality observed through the pattern seeking/obsessed lens of the self, hopelessly attempting to find, create, and project meaning, traditionally through religious stories and now through the miracle of technology and its story telling magic ball of “Big Data”. Measuring my steps every day thanks to my fitbit and observing my progress, I may convince myself of my greatness and athletic abilities but that’s just a temporary illusionary story I tell myself to feed my fragile ego that sustains my illusionary sense of self.

Maybe it’s too late and I've already baptized myself in the river of techno-consumerism when I purchased my latest iPhone and downloaded my favorite apps. Maybe I should face the reality that there is no escaping the Apple iCloud (god), Watch-ing, recording, and analyzing every choice and action. Maybe I'll eventually buy the Apple Watch to track my technology use and brag to my friend via social media how much I don’t use technology and social media. Maybe giving into Silicon Valley’s manipulative and profit-obsessed ecosystems is only a matter of time but I rather see that time pass by on my analog watch than the Apple’s intrusively watchful Watch.


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