7.15.2008

Appetite, Influence, and the iPhone 3G

So last Friday, June 11- I did it. I waited in line for the newly released iPhone 3G. As I was standing in line waiting it was interesting to me as I observed the other eager consumers that made up the line around me. It was fascinating to watch these people. The guys in front of me were on their first generation iPhones begging a girlfriend to bring them beer in to-go cups from the restaurant where she worked nearby. The gentleman three in front of me kept stepping out of line to take business calls (or at least calls that he made us believe were important) and was never in line when the apple geniuses came by to give their shpeel (urban dictionary confirmed that as the correct spelling), which was most unfortunate because two hours later when he reached the front of the line, he didn't have the correct information and required further assistance than the apple store could offer. He left without a new phone. Then, there was the young father who was far more focused on his upcoming purchase than his three year old daughter who was cruising the sidewalk and dragging her American Girl Doll across the front of someone's, who was clearly no where near us, Cadillac XTS. One of the beer requesters was actually an AT&T rep, which was interesting because he acted put off at all the questions and comments he was receiving- but guessing by his age, I'm imagining that he dressed himself. Perhaps he thought it would grant him some favor in the mile-long line and then was frustrated that his plan had not prevailed.

I think the most amazing part of all this to me was the large number of diverse people that had an extra $250-$500 to drop on a luxurious entertainment device named cell phone. In my defense- I saved some of my graduation money in anticipation of this purchase. I keep hearing what bad shape our economy is in and how people want to blame those who are driving up the oil prices. However, I am beginning to wonder if our own spending habits aren't becoming the demise of our country's financial situation. I think it began about 5-6 years ago when mortgage lenders began offering adjustable rate mortgages to people who either had no business owning a house, financially speaking, or people who were just too ignorant to understand the connotation of their purchase. Now all of those misfortunate spenders are drowning in payments they can't afford which is causing them to use credit cards for all their other expenses so they can make their mortgage payment. So now you have overextended lenders who are never going to collect on their "investment," which is making it more difficult for credible and qualified people to get financing.

I'll be honest- I really don't watch the news much or read the paper all that often. I'm not up on what the latest analysts are saying, I'm just sharing my observations and I realize that they are probably entirely unfounded. However, I can't help but believe that the financial situation in America is a reflection and result of Americans. I think our "want it now" mentality is biting us in the butt. I am often disgusted by how frustrated I get when I have to wait for something. I hear stories of children in Malawi, Africa, who have to walk 7 miles to get clean water, only for most of it to leak out before they return the 7 miles to their home- and I'm hacked off if I have to pull forward and wait on my food in a drive through. There's something really wrong with that picture. We get so focused on what we want that we can't hear the rational logic around us and we can't see our children acting out in an effort to grasp our attention. We are chasing dollar signs and desires, excusing it as the American Dream- but I think this is a nightmare that we better wake from in a hurry. To all those who bought their new iPhone 3G's instead of paying rent this month- I hope it works out for you, but more than that, I hope this nation will begin to see the effects of their desires.

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