Why iDon’t Need an iPhone

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ON ONE INTERNET NEWS site I check frequently, there’s a story this fine day about a mansion for sale in Beverly Hills for $165 million—the highest price tag ever (so far) for a private residence in the U.S.

The place originally belonged to newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst (same chap who built the impossibly opulent Hearst Castle on the California coast).

The BevHills residence has 29 bedrooms (is this a house—or a hotel?), three swimming pools, a movie theater, a disco, and an undisclosed number of bathrooms. The property has five other residences and tennis courts here and there on its 6.5 acres.

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With half of the world’s 6.6 billion people living on less than $2 a day—millions of them starving to death—this kind of “conspicuous consumption”—this incredible excess—seems obscene in the extreme.

Yet the urge for “more” is in all of us—and on that fault, I don’t get a free pass over anyone else. I’m fairly sure I could enjoy a Caddy Escalade big enough for its own zip code (at least till the first stop at the gas pump), instead of my current aging wheels. But I don’t need it. And though I don’t need 29 bedrooms, I’d like to build my dream home overlooking the Oregon Coast or on a forested mountainside.

Like a lot of males, I also have the gene that enjoys high-tech stuff: computers, cell phones, digital cameras—that sort of thing. I suppose even a wall-to-wall plasma TV with a surround-sound system to wake the dead could hold its charms. And a new $600 iPhone that’s a Swiss-Army-knife of techno-awesomeness? That could keep me fiddling for hours while my work burned.

My “wanter” is just as alive and well as anyone else’s, I’m quite sure. But when I look at this whole area of possessions—of “stuff”—my best reason tells me I certainly don’t need and can’t justify everything I might want.

If you have a new iPhone and truly need it, blessings on you—and you’ll get no judging from me about it. But as much as it might be great to have a gizmo that combines a cell phone and camera with wireless Internet and a personal organizer and makes breakfast every morning, I know that I personally can’t yet justify and don’t need an iPhone—or even its now-outdated predecessor in the Top Dog sweepstakes: a Blackberry. I already have a cell phone that does more things than I’ll ever need or have time to figure out.

There’s still something to be said for the old-fashioned virtue of frugality. And there’s plenty also that’s good about learning to be content with what one already has rather than constantly chasing the endless “more.”

Our Christianity should also inform this discussion. For one thing, the essence of selfishness is to hoard to oneself—to get, to have, to acquire. The essence of love, on the other hand, is to give.

For another, though we need not feel guilty about having—or striving for—a comfortable level of material security in this life, the realization that half the world’s people live in starvation and abject poverty should temper our attitudes and decisions about tangible possessions.

This topic deserves a book—not just a blog post. But as I preach to myself here occasionally, I don’t mind if you listen in.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. The iPhone craze is sort of like the bicycle craze that EGW wrote about. Don’t you think so?

    Reply

  2. Posted by Hercules on July 17, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    This is the real reason you don’t need an iPhone

    Reply

  3. Great blog. Yours came up as a possible link to the post I just wrote about the very new iPhone 3GS. I think we’re on the same page here.

    Reply

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