Why the IPad Has Inspired Me to Give Up My Toaster, My Coffeemaker, My Pants

Want to Be a Pathetic, Passive, Compliant Consumer? There's an App for That

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I feel like such an idiot. Here I thought I understood consumer satisfaction -- especially my own consumer satisfaction -- but I was wrong.

It all started with the iPad. On April 3, I bought one and fell in love with it. Or thought I fell in love with it.

Among the iPad's cruel seductions: It's incredibly easy to use. The 10-plus-hour battery life and the fact that there's no boot-up lag from its idle mode make a huge difference. And though it's primarily a media-consumption device (as advertised), I've had no trouble sending the same sort of basic content out of my iPad (e.g., e-mails, tweets and documents) that I pump out of my lumpen laptop.

But it turns out I was duped. Last week, iPad in hand, I got around to reading an essay by Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow titled "Why I Won't Buy An iPad (and Think You Shouldn't, Either)," which was actually published the day before the iPad's release. Doctorow, in slamming the iPad's "infantilizing hardware" and tightly controlled apps ecosystem, wrote that "The model of interaction with the iPad is to be a 'consumer,' what William Gibson memorably described as 'something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide. ... It's covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth ... no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote.'"

Doctorow's anti-iPad manifesto was a throwing down of the gauntlet -- which plenty of other media types have since picked up. Like Jeff "BuzzMachine" Jarvis, who, in a Business Insider post titled "I'm Really Worried About What Apple Is Trying To Do With The iPad," wrote, "I see danger in moving from the web to apps. The iPad is retrograde. It tries to turn us back into an audience again." And he hates that the iPad has no USB ports. (To get stuff in or out of an iPad, you have to do it wirelessly or via cable.)

Reading more and more criticism of the iPad, tears began to drip out of my eyes. I looked around my double-wide (OK, actually my fifth-floor walk-up in Manhattan's East Village) with disgust -- mostly directed at myself. What a pathetic, passive, compliant consumer I've become! Like, over there, in the kitchen: my incredibly easy-to-use Senseo coffeemaker, which I thought I loved. But it only accepts certain kinds of coffee pods. How devious! And my sleek Braun toaster: Sure, it can accommodate sliced bread and bagels, but could I cook a pot roast with it? No! Does it have a camera? No!

I knew I would have to continue inventorying all the other sad little self-defeating choices I've made as a consumer, but I was so filled with rage that I resolved to first get my toaster and coffeemaker out of my life immediately. So, with the intent of bringing them, along with my iPad, down to the trash, I reached to pull some clothes onto my dickless, boiled-potato body. But then, jeans in hand, it struck me: only two ports for limbs! How ridiculously limiting!

Death to Levi's! Death to Senseo! Death to Braun! Death to Apple!

And don't get me started on the whole indoor-plumbing racket, what with those fixed pipe sizes and condescendingly simple handles and faucets and such.

Death to Kohler, too!

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Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco. The latest Ad Age Insights white paper -- "Dumenco's State of the Media Report: From Social Media to Search, Print, Broadcast and Beyond, Where Ad-Supported Media Stands Now and Where It's Going" -- is available right here.

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