Jewish Journal

The Real Reason You Crave That New iPhone

FILE PHOTO: Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, speaks about the iPhone X during a launch event in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo

Apple’s shiny new iPhone X is being delivered to early adopters this week. East Coast enthusiasts set their alarms to 3 a.m. local time on Oct. 27 to buy this magical new device promising to connect them to all the information in the world – for $999 and up.

Apple sold out its preorder stock within minutes.

It’s easy to be cynical about our obsession with the latest greatest technology. We are spending thousands of dollars on incremental upgrades, and there is no indication that our thirst for new tech devices ever will be quenched. Next year, Apple will release another new iPhone and everyone will want it all over again.

Why? Yes, it’s a shiny new toy, and we love shiny new toys. Perhaps Freud would say it’s one way of overcompensating for an unfulfilled youth. Or maybe needing a new phone is a modern form of hedonism. It’s possible that intense enthusiasm for new gadgetry is a symptom of the moral rot in our society. But is there something deeper about our insatiable yearning for a new iPhone? Does this yearning connect to a more sublime yearning in our souls?

Yes.

Our generation is the first to live in a world where addiction to information is possible. We are literate, and we can access nearly all the information known to man in the palm of our hand. Two generations ago, the idea that every person on the planet could easily connect to all the data in the observable universe was not even a dream. It was outside the realm of possibility. Literacy was a luxury and information was shared slowly in small bites instead of gigabytes.

The world is different now. We are overwhelmed by information overload. We can’t escape the deluge of data. Nothing is secret, and sometimes it feels like nothing is sacred. Information tantalizes us. Who is doing what? What is going on over there? When did that happen? How does this work? Who made that? Stolen pictures of that famous person? Celebrity gossip? Secret recordings? We need to know.

We are the first generation to lust after total knowledge.

That means, we are the first generation to understand the primordial story of Man. Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, where everything was available to them, save for the fruit of one tree, the Tree of Knowledge. Faster than Kramer lost “The Challenge” on Seinfeld, Adam and Eve succumbed to temptation and ate from the Tree of Knowledge.

The yearning we feel for knowledge is the same yearning that Adam and Eve could not resist. The rush we get when we imbibe in the endless sea of data is the rush that Adam and Eve wanted to feel. They wanted knowledge – all of it. Until very recently, this was not something humans could understand. It was impossible to truly unlock the meaning of this story. We could say the words, but we could never really get what it feels like to lust after knowledge. Today, we understand.

Unlike Adam and Eve, Apple is not our forbidden fruit. In the garden, Adam and Eve were given the chance to live a life without information. That life would have been a supercharged spirituality, but they we banished from the garden and the life of the garden was lost forever. Ever since that moment, the quest for knowledge beckons to us but knowledge is no longer forbidden.

For us, knowledge is power; power to choose, power to grow, power to live, power to build, power to love. The actual information is not forbidden, but the way we use information can be forbidden. When we use information the wrong way, we banish ourselves and others from our world.

Enjoy your new iPhone X and the all-access pass it grants you to the knowledge party. A bit of mindfulness about the soul of our information addiction, though, will help us use our knowledge to grow the Tree of Life.