I got my first iPhone in 2007, and I don’t think I exaggerate when I say it changed my life - not the course of my life, but my day-to-day life. As advanced and magical as that first smart phone was for me at the time, I’m sure it would seem hilariously primitive now. Over the years, the constant feed of small, but frequent, improvements has led to a device that I honestly can’t imagine doing without.
So I was pretty excited about finally upgrading from my old iPhone 4, that was slowly dying, to a sleek new 5. Unfortunately, I have been hating it, and even worse, my love affair with all that is Apple has come to a crashing halt. The battery life on my 5 renders it barely usable (I can actually watch the percentage ticking down, down, down), it keeps refusing to join known networks, takes forever to load emails, etc, etc. I got a defective model.
But what’s just as bad as my dissatisfaction and disappointment with this lemon is the experience I’ve had at two different Apple stores (one in Baltimore and one in NYC). In both places, I became witness to the scary side of the Cult of Apple. I have long admired the values and way of functioning of the Apple world. Such integrity! Such high principles of clean, clean design!
But the people in the stores are ROBOTS. It was absolutely weird to try to talk to them about my problems with the phone, like talking to a machine that just spews out the same four responses over and over again. “Your phone is functioning perfectly” “there is no problem with your phone.” “The diagnostic shows your battery is healthy.” “It’s working exactly as it should.”
The level of not-listening, not-getting, not-interested-in-satisfying-the-customer was stunning. At one point I finally got one of them to look at the advertised specs for the iPhone 5 battery that were posted on Apple’s site. “See here?” I pointed to the screen. “It says, ‘Standby time: up to 225 hours.’Even with all the battery-eating functions turned off, I’m getting nine!” Response: “it says ‘up to.’” Me: “But nine hours is like 1/20th of 225!” Response: “It says ‘up to.” The robot only had the one response, and he just forged ahead with it, over and over, no matter how many different ways I tried to express how far nine hours is from 225 hours.
Recognizing that the robot had come to the end of his tether, and that no new response would be forthcoming, I asked to speak to a supervisor. Unsurprisingly, she was just an uber version of the first guy, with the addition of a measured belligerence. Where the first guy had gotten pretty far in wearing me down, the supervisor robot finished the job in no uncertain terms, all but saying, “read my lips: NO!”, while assuming the stance of a bouncer who is definitely not going to let you in. Clearly, I was caught up in a rigid choreography that was way bigger than me. I left, feeling thoroughly creeped-out.
Before I went the first time, I figured I might not get what I wanted, which was to exchange my two-week-old, defective iPhone for a new, properly functioning one. My second visit was made in the hope that the first visit was an anomaly. It wasn’t.
President Barack Obama did not just win reelection tonight. His victory signaled the irreversible triumph of a new, 21st-century America: multiracial, multi-ethnic, global in outlook and moving beyond centuries of racial, sexual, marital and religious tradition.
Obama, the mixed-race son of Hawaii by way of Kansas, Indonesia, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, won reelection in good part because he not only embodied but spoke to that New America, as did the Democratic Party he leads. His victorious coalition spoke for and about him: a good share of the white vote (about 45 percent in Ohio, for example); 70 percent or so of the Latino vote across the country, according to experts; 96 percent of the African-American vote; and large proportions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
The Republican Party, by contrast, has been reduced to a rump parliament of Caucasian traditionalism: white, married, church-going — to oversimplify only slightly. “It’s a catastrophe,” said GOP strategist Steve Schmidt. “This is, this will have to be, the last time that the Republican Party tries to win this way.”