OPINION: In Defense of the I-Pad

In Defense of the I-Pad

[Image] OPINION: In Defense of the I-Pad

By Kate Kallenberger

 

It’s lean. It’s mean. And it’s destroying America one $1.99 app at a time.

I fully intended to verbally annihilate the iPad and denounce it as the end of life, the universe and everything. As a dedicated PC user, I wanted to write a scathing report on how it discourages interpersonal communication and encourages the plummet into technological reliance.

The iPad is, in fact, damaging to mankind, if put in the wrong hands. But the device also has boundless potential to educate, connect, and improve.

Apple’s iPad sales can be attributed to the perplexing brand loyalty of Apple product users. Brand loyalty is built on a consistent brand personality. Apple has a built an empire on being creative and appearing exclusive. The iPad appears as a technological plateau only those in on Apple’s boundless secrets can reach.

And despite everything I stand for, I find myself longing to be in the club.

Apple’s touch-screen iPad comes equipped with a 9.7 inch screen, 3G Wi-Fi connectivity, sensational LED graphics, and enough hype to disappoint even the lowest of expectations. But even pessimists will take a shine to something the iPad has to offer.

The iPad is ostentatious, unnecessary but completely alluring. It is not the thin, lightweight design, the envy it will surely spark in friends or even the surprisingly excellent sound quality that makes me pine for half-iPhone, half-tablet computer.

It is the revolution the iPad will inevitably begin. It is the exquisite picture quality and brilliant colors of the Marvel Comics app that will have comic book and graphic novel fiends drooling.

It is the iPad version of Scrabble- with the tablet as game board and iPod touches as tile racks- that will change everything. No longer will board games be played on boards. No longer will we suffer the wrath of missing game pieces because they will all be stored inside our 64 GB iPads.

It is the ability to access everything- the New York Times, family photos, entire novels- at the flick of the wrist. The iPad carries an entire desk’s worth of media. With 3G Wi-Fi and at 1.5 pounds- over five pounds lighter than the average laptop- the iPad can be taken and used at its full potential anywhere.

Apple has stumbled upon something world-altering here. The scope of the iPad is illimitable.

The iPad has already begun to revolutionize education. High schools have implemented the iPad into the curriculum. Schools are purchasing iPads in bulk and re-selling them to students at discounted prices. In some cases, the iPad replaces the need for entire text books. Students can take special iPad-only classes where students bring an iPad, rather than a notebook and pencil.

Paperback books are replaced with the eReader and countless sheets of paper used for class materials are being saved with personalized classroom networks.

In the App Store, educators can find a bevy of programs that will accelerate the learning process. Something as dull as learning the elements can be brightened with The Elements: A Visual Exploration app that teaches students about the periodic table of elements through stunning visuals. The table is transformed from confusing abbreviations into lovely graphics that will perk up disaffected students.

The endless features of the iPad are enthralling but as with any new device, it has its drawbacks. You cannot open multiple programs and it lacks Flash support, making watching videos from websites other than YouTube impossible.

Yet, according to the official iPad sales tracker on Chitika, sales have topped 1.8 million. A small portion of this is educators and students, so where are the rest going? Why does anyone want a giant iPhone?

In Consumed, Benjamin R. Barber notes the trend of adults remaining stagnant in economical maturity. Markets encourage “impulse over deliberation” and “instant gratification over long-term satisfaction,” effectively turning would-be fiscally responsible adults into childlike consumers who buy anything that sparkles or shines.

The need to upgrade and acquire is instilled in us as children. Marketing panders to the inner child in adults. The toys, not the child, have changed.

Fifteen years ago, it was legos and Barbies, now it’s an iPad application for locating the nearest public bathroom.

Americans pine for the Swiffer sweeper for its promise of ease and cleanliness; run out to buy the Wii Fit in hopes of a happier, more productive life. We are suckers for the Magic Bullet for the endless possibilities the ever-smiley actors tell us the miniature blender provides.

According to Affluenza authors John DeGraaf, David Wann, and Thomas H. Naylor, it all comes down to the universal “ache for meaning.”

It is an attempt to define oneself through purchases; to find meaning in an increasingly desensitizing, consumer-based national landscape. So are all iPad users just attempting to fill a “soul-crushing void” in vain? Are Best Buy and Costco the be-all, end-all of consumer progress?

What the iPad and any other major technological advancement come down to is progress versus poison. It’s not as though the iPad has infinite potential for destroying the planet, person by person, app by app.

But it’s completely possible we could find ourselves in technological oblivion, drowning in pointless applications and banging our heads against the gorgeous touch screen. Whether that’s the outcome, or whether we use the iPad for good - to connect, to learn and to save trees – is entirely up to us.

Note: The photo is a royalty-free stock photo
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