iOS 8 Will See You Now
Despite the hype, I’d managed to avoid any concrete knowledge of the iOS 8 launch until the day before. It wasn't an active avoidance on my part, more a blissful ignorance borne from a profound lack of interest. As with Kim and Kanye’s anniversary, I couldn't have pinpointed this High Holy Day for iPhone cultists on a calendar to save my life.
Nonetheless, right about the time the universe of iOS 8 deniers reached a group of two - me and the last surviving Korowai Batu tribesman living deep in the jungles of Papua New Guinea (who famously once used a Motorola RAZR v3 given to him by a group of technology missionaries to gut fish) -- I made a decision: I couldn't beat the hype, so I might as well join it… and make fun of it.
With my four-year-old son in tow I arrived at the Apple Store 15 minutes before the official launch time, for I felt it was time for him to learn how to point and laugh discreetly at gadget-people.
To assure him his derision would be well placed, I told him about the standing ovation thousands of such people gave the iPhone - an inanimate object, mind you - when it was introduced at the Macworld Conference before his lifetime. I'll paraphrase what I'm pretty sure he was thinking after hearing my account, "Gee, Daddy. That's Orwellian in its creepiness."
"Gee, Daddy. That's Orwellian in its creepiness.
As we approached the store, I felt the same trepidation a man might experience when, having been driven mad with curiosity after watching "Shark Week", he dives into the Great Barrier Reef with the very real possibility of coming face-to-snout with a live 20-foot Great White.
Then I heard it…the sound of rapture usually heard at revival meetings, when the blind see and the lame walk. It was a squadron of blue-shirted Apple employees high-fiving and generally enthusing their way into the store to take to their posts. All were exhibiting a manic gusto normally reserved for high-school cheerleaders, "Up with People!", and those paid to show gusto – and it was all perfectly reasonable to the assembly of bleeding edge iGluttons, who were out in force.
First in a long, winding line was an outwardly rational couple, holding court while sitting in "camping" chairs that have never known dirt, only the pavement in front of Best Buys and the polished marble floors of malls. They regaled everyone around them with stories of adversity from the Play Station launch of '95, before there was even a Starbucks within easy walking distance.
Then there was the guy screaming teasingly into his iOS 7-equipped phone (circa way back in Q3 '13), "You're obsolete! You're obsolete!" It remains unclear whether he was berating a friend on the other end of a call about missing the launch or was actually haranguing his device.
My son and I made our way down the line, and as we did we noticed a subtle change in attitude. The first third of the line - geniuses who had taken a vacation day to wait for a soon-to-be-omnipresent product that would be obsolete before all its bugs had been identified (a tad optimistic, as it turned out) - sneered at us, noses raised with the contempt of perfumed nobles in the presence of a filthy peasant or, even worse, early adopters in the presence of a laggard.
However, as we progressed farther, the body language shifted. My son noticed first, pointing (discreetly) at a woman who seemed more introspective than those before her. "She's number 98," I said. "She's only been here for five hours. In her eyes, she is only slightly better than us." By the time we reached the end of the queue people were so riddled with self-loathing they were downright pleasant.
Finally, amid the cheers of their fellow true believers, the couple first in line walked reverently, arm-in-arm up the steps to the Apple Store. The iOS 8 operating system would see them now. My son took in the scene, "Daddy, it looks like they're going to see the Wizard of Oz."
"Yes, it does," I said. "And I hope they ask for some brains."