On suffering

As a secular humanist, I often look out upon those who paint humanity with a broad and pessimistic brush, and I despair. Some people are so jaded about the human condition that they see only the worst. Selfishness, mistreatment, lack of empathy, and only an occasional solidarity that, at best, flourishes into something that ultimately defeats its original goodly intentions and becomes a monstering behemoth with a set of power-control motives all its own. I’m looking at you, PBS.

I say no to all that. People are wonderful creatures, better than any other animal, and even most plants, on planet Earth and whatever we’re about to find on Mars. Through our combined efforts and understanding, we can transcend the superficial boundaries that these cynics erect between us. We can unify, through our mutual experience — through love, fraternal joy, happiness and, yes, even our shared suffering.

And that is the topic of this entry: suffering.

iOS 6 was released for Apple products almost one month ago and with it, the now infamous Apple Maps. The moral idealists of our generation have finally cried out as one. Let me tell you, it is a beautiful thing to see. This is a big win on the scoreboard for us who believe in the shared subjective human morality. Who says the public can’t, by and large, see an injustice, be vocal about it, and strive to effect a real change in the world to make sure it never, ever happens again?

I won’t get too ahead of myself, as that change has not yet happened, but it’s been less than a month and I’m very optimistic. Apple has simply gone too far this time.

Sure they basically contract production of their sleek, user-friendly devices to what amounts to, by first-world standards, a massive prison camp housing overworked laborers and outfitted with suicide-prevention nets. That’s called a “benefit,” and do you have any idea how many factories don’t have suicide prevention nets? Trust me – you don’t want to look at those numbers. Not all companies demand such progressive measures to be taken by their foreign affiliates. It’s called going “above and beyond.” Do you know what Google provides for their employees? Razors. Sounds a little less anti-suicide than Foxconn, doesn’t it?

If you don’t think these are for killing yourself with, then you’ve never seen a kid ride one over a sewer grate.

And, if we’re being completely honest about it, China, or Japan or wherever, has a culture of suicide. Did Tom Cruise go over there and demand that Samurai stop killing themselves because in America we don’t do that (except for teenagers, or around the holidays, or if someone makes fun of us on Facebook)? No, because he was respectful, and so was that movie (the one where the white alcoholic becomes a master samurai in under a year).

Xenophobia is a big problem in America, and the fact that Apple is allowing these factory workers to continue the cathartic release that comes with hurling yourself out of your 30-person “dormitory” “window,” while landing safely in a surprise net so you won’t miss your 14-hour shift coloring in the orange on the iPhone’s “silent” switch, shows a lot of sensitivity.

But holy shit, Apple Maps sucks. I mean, the driving directions are decent, but I have to look up the address of a place on Google first, because the software doesn’t have nearly as much data at its disposal. There are no transit directions, so I have to download a third-party app, which I then have to figure out on the fly, while I’m lost downtown and very buzzed. And on top of all that, there doesn’t seem to be a way for me to set the navigation voice to Australian female, which is really my number one preference for nav-voice dialect. Not only do I hear American accents all day every day, but my brain narrates my life almost exclusively in an American accent. I didn’t have my phone shipped halfway around the world to have it not talk like a future-woman. Future-women have British accents, or similar.

Make no mistake: Apple has subjected its users to what amounts to a public beta test. iOS 6 is a big shit sandwich, and we’re all gonna have to take a bite. How long will we have to suffer before this software is patched, or until Google Maps is back on the App Store? “First-world problems” these may be, but how long until they trickle down to second-, and even third-world peoples? We owe it to them to make our lives as streamlined and intuitive as possible, and with a fun interface!

Perhaps a more interesting question takes form not while looking ahead to the future, but while looking back to the past. What has happened to Apple? Where did it go wrong? What is the big variable here?

For me, it has to be Steve Jobs. Without such a visionary, and dare I say spiritual, man at the head of this corporation, its trajectory has gone awry. Look, I don’t know. Maybe Tim Cook is a “great” guy. But would he claim sterility in order to deny having sired his first daughter, leaving her to be raised by a single mother on welfare, while he focused on his work? Ha! Doubtful. I don’t even know if Tim Cook has kids, but I bet he’d be a great father. And that’s his problem — he doesn’t have his eyes exclusively on the ball.

Some guys want it enough, and some guys don’t. Tim Cook doesn’t seem to want much of anything, and how can you trust a man without desires? I just hope that my generation has the heart and the will of mind to want it enough. “It” being a substantive update to the iPhone operating system. Or at least an untethered jailbreak. Do we want to leave a lesser generation of smartphone to our children than we had? Be the change you want to see in the world.


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7 Responses to On suffering

  1. creeped says:

    I feel like you read my mind and beautifully vomited my thoughts on to this post. ios6 my fucking ass! To give it a higher number than 5 suggests that it is in someway more advanced. There is literally NOTHING better about it. The new iTunes and App Store layout is annoying. The passbook is useless. The maps, the MAPS, they appear to be mapping some kind of alternative universe that is slightly different to our own. And one without any kind of public transport. Or shops.

    Sorry there is one thing it is good at. iOS 6 is twice as good at burning through my battery life. So there’s that.

    • BLAG says:

      Haha, beautiful vomit is probably better than any term I could have thought of to describe what I’m going for. I’ll add a few more things to the iOS 6 shit-list: it can’t push video to Apple TV and it doesn’t know how to use a wifi connection. The Podcast app’s search function doesn’t fucking work. I have no idea what the passbook is for, and I’ll never use it. I pretty much just used my iPhone to make calls, check emails and use Google Maps. It still makes calls, so that’s good.

      Ultimately, no human being deserves to have any of these services at their fingertips. What bothers me is Apple already got me used to having it before they took it away. What a nasty trick. Apple needs to allow software rollback.

  2. [Name redacted] says:

    Does this mean you don’t want a new iPhone?

    Sent from my iPad

  3. BLAG says:

    Mom! This isn’t email. I’ll show you how to send me comments next time I’m home.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hi Alex!!

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