How Apple wants you to feel inadequate

If you don't have a "verse" and you don't have fitness "goals," you are not a real, modern human being. At least that's what Apple's latest ads are telling you.

Chris Matyszczyk
4 min read

You don't have goals? You don't have a verse? You're nothing. Apple/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Every day is a struggle to be yourself.

There are so many expectations, so many external pressures to perform and conform.

Sometimes, it all seems contradictory. Be yourself, but be like Mike. Drink whatever you want, but if you don't drink Gatorade, you'll be as poor a basketball player as LeBron James.

It's a wonder we're not all mad. It's less of a wonder that we are.

Lately, though, I've barely been able to function. You see, Apple has started to release ads that suggest my life is nothing more than bloated vapor.

It began with two new iPad Air ads.

In one, famous conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen was shown shaving. Just as I felt confident that this was something I was capable of, there he was creating new music on his iPad Air. Everywhere.

See Esa-Pekka at the airport. He's inspired. He's writing something new. See Esa-Pekka outside a restaurant. Yes, he's wafting a few more crochets and quavers onto his Apple machine. One-handed.

I can't write standing up. And I don't take an iPad Air to restaurants. Have I missed the cultural boat?

If my creative juices don't constantly overflow, does this mean, in Apple's latest and very clever parlance, that I haven't contributed a "verse" to life's rich novel?

The second iPad Air ad offered deaf travel writer Cherie King. She wafts around the world, her machine at her beck, call and hip. She uses her iPad Air to do everything from talking to handsome men to blogging to translating to tweeting to photographing handsome scenery.

These people's verses have become my curses.

What am I doing with my life? Why am I not writing blog posts while composing symphonies? Why am I not FaceTimeing in several languages simultaneously? Is there a place where I can patent my verse so that no one steals it? Once I've decided what my verse is, of course.

I didn't sleep for a week after those ads came out. Zombies kept appearing in the night, dripping blood on my forehead and hissing: "What have you done with your life? No wonder women don't want you. You're perverse. You're verseless."

I thought I'd regained a little equilibrium, though. I started to look at the almost final manuscript of a book I'm writing. Yes, I could have a verse. It might be one-dimensional, but I could call it a uni-verse, couldn't I?

And then Apple told me I had chicken fat.

I try not to look in the mirror as much as possible. Even when I shave, I feel out where the stubble is with my fingers, rather than stare at it.

Yes, there might be a love handle or two. But "love handle" is so much cuter a phrase than "chicken fat."

Now I feel clinically obese. For Apple decided to peddle all its fitness apps in one macrobiotic, guilt-inducing dollop of ad.

This ad tells doesn't just tell me I'm fat. It says that if I don't jump up and down on the bed at five in the morning while my lover's asleep, I'm not a person of today.

I am surplus societal weight.

Before dawn, I should have already consulted with some sort of health gizmo on my iPhone to check, who knows, my blood pressure, my blood sugar levels and my skin tones.

And if I'm not using the iPhone to check on every aspect of my health and, um, performance, I am going to be a fat clucker for the rest of my life.

I can't even stand on a bathroom scale without clutching my iPhone and checking, what is that, the progress or regress of my blubber for the last 30 days?

Even if I go and play golf, it doesn't matter whether I hit it straight. I have to download some sort of iPhone app that tells me the precise club head speed -- or is it hip rotation angle? -- as I hit the ball.

And if I'm not using my iPhone at the gym, then I am, frankly, a wobbling fool. It can show me the perfect way to do sit ups and those things where you put your feet in a sling and make like a trapped crocodile.

The important thing is, according to this ad, is that my goals must be reached.

I must get an iPhone notification to tell me so. Only then can I feel adequate as a human being. At least for this one day, before I have to jump on my sleeping lover all over again.

But here's the problem: how can I have goals, when I don't have a verse?

Or should I decide on my goals -- my chorus, as it were -- and then begin to decide how to use my iPad Air to compose the verses that complement it?

I just feel so confused. I just feel so inadequate. I think I'll go back to bed.