I stood in line for two and a half hours this morning as I watched the procession of nameless faces slowly snake around corners and meander through labyrinth barriers – all in anticipation of procuring a new iPhone 5s. This was the morning that gadget-hungry people all across the US could first lay their hands on the latest and greatest from Apple. This kind of collective mania around stuff is something I typically stay far away from. I read in the newspaper of people lining up all night to be the first in line for a myriad array of new gadgets and must-see events and feel a sense of pity for the lack of meaning in these poor people’s lives. Is this what drives them to be?
And yet there I was – in line – along with hundreds of strangers – all waiting for the chance to go into the Apple store and buy a phone. Do they really need it? Did I? I consoled myself by saying my story was worthy – after all – I was a victim – someone violated my personhood in a blatant, midday theft, snatching my phone, my phone that contained my life story, right out of my office. I deserved a chance to not just get the latest and greatest, but just to be able to reconnect with my loved ones. The people around me already had phones – many of which less than a year ago had the honor of being the latest and greatest. Did that really justify their standing in line so long?
I judged them harshly – allowing my resistance to being ‘one of the masses’ to get in my way. I can lose touch with myself in such a crowd – a direct connection to my introverted nature. I have a strong dislike for shopping in a mall for this very reason. I have a need to individuate myself – to see myself as a unique person with my own set of gifts and talents – to know a few people and for them to know me. I build trailers and beds and sheds and cabinets and houses and farms and teach classes and write reports for the Board of Teaching to keep our Teacher Education Department afloat. I can do these things. I can be part of a small team that can pool our collective talents together for a purpose. I can stand apart from the masses and be myself. And now I can do it with my new phone. And if I get lonely, I can talk to Siri.