Anyone with a passing interest in technology will be familiar with the “cult of Apple” cliché, the idea that Apple’s core users are less customers or fans, and more devotees and fanatics.
I’ve had a lot of fun with this idea, casting myself as a fundamentalist disciple of “The Steve” (peace be upon him), asserting, with tongue partially in cheek, that Apple could do no wrong, that all of its design choices and marketing messages were divinely revealed through Steve himself, as well as certain chosen prophets like Jony Ive, he of the Perfect White Heaven of Industrial Design. For a time, I even donned the blue shirt and belonged officially to Apple’s priesthood.
But as much as I do admire and connect with Apple and its devices, I am kidding on the square with all of my quasi-religious proselytizing and rhetorical genuflecting.
Along these lines, last year Brett T. Robinson wrote about the mystical properties being ascribed to the iPhone, and how Apple had succeeded in selling a mix of the physical and the metaphysical:
The iPhone and its touchscreen interface engage the technological faithful at a heightened level of intimacy. The iPhone is not a cold and lifeless machine; it is an enchanted talisman, animated by touch. It mimics an encounter with the transcendent by mediating the infinite body of online information and communication possibilities.
I’m not certain if Robinson’s use of the word “talisman” in this context is the first I’d seen, but something about this idea, the iPhone-as-talisman, the tech gadget as religious artifact, really resonated with me. Instead of poking fun at the religious fervor of Apple fanboys, it suggested to me entirely new avenues of thought when it comes to the human relationship to our devices, the seemingly endless layers of technologies that surround us, support us, guide us, keep us, and in many ways define us.
Supernaturalistic religion is entirely false, baseless, dangerous, and on the decline. What moves in to fill some of the gaps it leaves behind? Ethics, science, humanistic compassion, and each individual’s own efforts toward making meaning within their lives, certainly. But I think that additionally technology, permeating our culture and superimposed over our day-to-day lives, is part of that. I think it’s a big part of that.
And I want to think out loud about that here.
iMortal will look at technology and the human experience, written from a skeptic and humanist perspective. Not every post will be about tech-as-religion per se, but the main focus of this blog will be this interplay of modern technology and the way we live our lives.
You like the banner? It was made by most excellent friend Justin Sapp, who often does these nice things for me.
The contents of my other blog Near-Earth Object will be migrated here over the coming weeks, so don’t let that particular hodgepodge of subject matter confuse you, but also don’t expect dogmatic adherence to a singular topic from here on out either. I reserve the right to continue to indulge in writing about my absurd adventures as a parent, non-philosophical gadget reviews, laments about politics, and other sundry things that catch my interest. (I will also continue to contribute to Friendly Atheist.) But the intent of this blog is to be more specifically focused than the previous one.
We are mortal beings riding an incredible wave of technological change the likes of which our species has never seen. At the same time, so many of us are still mired in Bronze Age myths and magical thinking. What’s it all mean? What are we in for? I certainly don’t know, but I’m dying to find out.
So this is iMortal, a blog about our finite lives during the tech revolution.