Socrates Would Like the iPhone

The iPhone 5 has been out for about a week now and, according to reports, over 5 million have already been purchased.  That’s good for Apple and for all of us techno-geeks that love new gadgets.  It’s faster, lighter and allows owners to take really cool panoramic photographs!  I won’t be buying the new phone but only because I have the 4S and my contract with AT&T isn’t ‘up’ yet.  Yes, I’m one of those techno-geeks and I love all of my gadgets!!  But I am also more aware than ever that the central reality of having all of this connectedness is that I am more deeply imbedded in the CROWD than ever.  The crowd surrounds me, informs me, distracts me and entertains me.  The crowd includes close friends and family along with people I never physically see.

Why would Socrates love the iPhone?  Because he was a connector.  He cherished his friends and was intensely curious about their lives.  He lived in and was energized by life in the city.  The city in Socrates’ day was where learning happened!  So, when his friend Phaedrus suggested that he join him on a stroll outside the city walls, Socrates was incredulous.  ‘Forgive me, friend,’ says Socrates.  ‘I am devoted to learning; landscapes and trees have nothing to teach me–only people in the city can do that.’  Well, who am I to argue with Socrates?!  But, he’s dead and I’m not so I am going to assert one thing about the importance of separating ourselves–whether by going for a walk outside the city or simply turning off some of our gadgets–from the crowd periodically.  

William Powers, whose work, Hamlet’s Blackberry, I cited in an earlier post, offered this bit of wisdom:

“Everyone needs to create a gap between themselves and the screen–the gap that opens up when you turn it off.  When you do that, something miraculous happens.  You regain the best part of yourself and the best part of life, the human part.”

Enjoy your gadgets.  I certainly do.  But remember to take a little time (Stop) and regain (Discover) the best part of yourself and life…the human part!

2 thoughts on “Socrates Would Like the iPhone

  1. Wise words, Marshall. Last week when I was in Ohio we had no internet connection. I made a few phone calls and sent a few texts, then went into town once to post a few pictures, but was “out of the technology loop” for the rest of the week. It was lovely! I had a chance to enjoy my extended family and my mom and sisters throughout the week. I didn’t get nearly enough time to enjoy nature, but hopefully next time I will.

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