Monday, July 02, 2007


If anyone had any doubts that United States has become the new incarnation of Rome set ablaze, just pick up a copy of Saturday’s Times Union; you’ll see more than a hunderd reasons why indeed the end of days may very well be upon us. As droves of tech junkies crowded malls across the nation to catch a piece of Apple's latest extraneous micro-device, reporters from the TU and just about every paper in the country was there to write the story.

Yes, the fledgling iPhone, Corporate America latest tool to guile the ever-complacent consumer deeper into mind-numbing complicity, hit the market at Crossgates Mall Friday with the same hype it did elsewhere in shopping plazas around the country. People lost sleep. People left work. People waited on lines for more than two days just to get a small electronic device that will allow them to tune out a bit further from reality.

Or is that closer to reality; reality T.V. that is. With the new iPhone, Internet addicts will be only a few finger-motions away from the Web, where they can download the latest pod cast of Big Brother, or perhaps browse the chat bases for the straight dope on American Idol.

Now they can listen to soundtracks for the aforementioned programs they purchase from iTunes, and then text-message their opinions to fellow viewers in the broken English that has come to symbolize the information superhighway. And while they’re doing all this, the media can write about it; long 20-inch articles about the fervor surrounding the latest consumer craze to touch down since the latest incarnation of Play Station hit the market seven months ago.

In the news business of bygone years, they used to call these manifestations in print by their real nomenclature: free advertisements. In fact, 20 inches of newsprint –equivalent to roughly a half-page ad –once cost a pretty penny. Not to mention, they typically didn’t end up on the front page or heading local section with full-color photos.

The TU wasn’t alone in covering the iCraze this week. Across New York, there were no less than 300 articles written about or making direct reference to the iPhone since January, many of them taking shape over the last week. During the first day shopping bonanza, the TU’s coverage was joined by many of the Empire State’s heavy hitters; the Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, and the New York Times all cashed in on “iDay” last week.

Naturally, all the Capital Region papers followed suit and penned wordy articles chronicling the hysteria –or is it dementia –surrounding what essentially boils down to a toy for adults. So it’s hard to aim too much vitriol at the TU or any of the other papers for simply following the fickle herd of media. But it would have been nice for an editorial board somewhere to speak out about the madness –in the media at least.

Reading all the iTripe would have been easier had such articles been tempered with an acerbic rant about how Apple doesn’t even need to advertise their latest overpriced device; the complacent media does it for them. Even better would have been a lack of such an article followed by an editorial explaining why: there are no free rides in this world, not even for you, Steve Jobs. Yet the lily-livered gutless pukes that run these publications didn’t have the fortitude to make such a stand against abject consumerism.

Meanwhile, real news is happening somewhere out there somewhere below this crust of advertorials; news involving decisions that will affect the common persons’ life much more than a line of fools waiting for an overpriced mini-laptop that doubles as a phone and will break within a year. Perhaps the real news is that citizens –and more importantly editors –are becoming so disconnected from their surroundings that ordinary news really makes no difference to them. But at least they’ll always have their iPhone to check the latest update in media about what mind-numbing technology craze is hitting the local shopping mall.


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