Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Slices of Apple Juxtaposed in the Detroit Free Press

Naturally I was delighted to find an article on our Mercy's Apple Distinguished School award in the Sunday Detroit Free Press.  I had kept an eye out for the piece for several days.  When reporter Joe Guillen was composing the story he predicted it would appear sometime over the holidays.  

Continually checking for our story on the "Freep" site was not merely an act of vanity.  I visit the Free Press online several times a day for news and sports.

In fact when I was looking over the rest of the "paper" the same day our story appeared, I came across another item about Apple.  Columnist, Mitch Album wrote a piece grumping about their holiday commercial titled "Misunderstood" that ran so frequently in the days leading up to Christmas

In case you missed the sentimental commercial, it depicts a young lad preoccupied with his iPhone during the family Christmas gathering.  In the end we discover that his absorption is not narcissistic-- he has been recording and editing a family movie that the group watches tearfully at the end.

Now, the commercial was too sappy for my tastes.  However Albom attacked it on the premise that Apple was propagandizing the virtues of mobile technology when Albom contends that in fact using mobile technology is more likely to damage family relationships.

In the comments responding to the article many readers pointed out the hypocrisy of a media personality like Albom (He also has a radio show) ridiculing technology and sounding like an old crank by only focusing on the harm that technology can do. I agree with those commenters who point out that while technology can certainly distract us from important personal interactions, it can also make connections possible.  Besides phone calls, "Facetiming", FaceBook and texting our phones can surely allow us to share messages photos, and yes, videos with friends and family in ways that were not remotely possible in "the good old days".

I also found the following passage to be incredibly cynical:

By manipulating the images and making the movie version of the family Christmas seem even more emotional than the real thing, it is playing on the heartstrings of a country whose citizens want more and more to be the stars of their own films. Facebook. Instagram. YouTube. Reality TV. They all play into this.

And an iPhone is portal to them all.

So Apple, perhaps sensing that holiday humanity might mean some pushback, cleverly launches a preemptive campaign, suggesting the teen you scold tomorrow may be creating something loving today.

Except, of course, that he’s not.

The real-life teen is more likely texting a friend about how boring the family is, or checking the latest YouTube video of a rock band dressed as foxes, or playing “Angry Birds,” or watching a season’s worth of TV shows, or any one of a thousand distractions that keep real life at bay.

Hmnn.... I wonder really where Albom gathers his ideas about "the real life teen".  If the teenagers he encounters today seem withdrawn and surly, I am pretty confident that such teen behavior could also be found in the pre-smartphone days of his youth.  

I am surrounded by teens about 180 days a year, and I have found many of them to be be fantastically creative with their iPhones and iPads. It is certainly not a stretch to think that a kid could make a cool movie with his mobile device to celebrate rather disconnect from a family event.  

I very well know that technology can serve as a tempting time-waster and distraction for persons of all ages. That in itself is a valid issue and I acknowledge it.  However, Mitch is guilty of being sentimental about a cheery teenage Christmas time that never existed and, worse, seeing only the negatives about teens and technology.  I am glad that Mercy High School wins national award for innovative use of iPad in the curriculum serve as an implicit rebuttal to the Album's popular column.

No comments:

Blog Archive