Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How 'Bout Them Apples?

One of the uniquely American quirks that's developed as part of our nation's character over the last century or so has been an increasing reliance on technology to save Americans from some of the most onerous parts of our own lives.

From washing machines to video recorders, Americans have invented and developed much of the best new technology in the world over the last century - even if more recently, American corporations have been shipping the jobs building those gadgets and gizmos overseas.

It would seem appropriate, then, that when a uniquely American problem sprouts up - say the desire to throw a brick or stone through our televisions, computers, or radios because of all the damn political advertisements - that a uniquely American technology solution would be following right behind.

Thanks to Apple, Americans may soon be able to push a button on their technology that will skip right over those annoying political ads.

Last week, Apple not only won a massive lawsuit against Samsung, who was charged with infringing on the patents - the intellectual forbidden fruit - of the world's largest technology company. Apple also was granted another patent for a new system of technology last week that would allow "seamless switching between radio and local media."

For non-tech people, that means that if you were listening to a radio station - or watching TV - on your iPhone or iPad, and a commercial popped up that you dislaked, Apple's technology would be able to automatically replace the commercial with something you already own. For example, a snippet of your favorite song or favorite movie could pop up for thirty seconds while the ad you do not wish to see is playing. Then, when the offending ad is over, the Apple product can return you to the same station you were watching or listening to - all while you touch nothing on your device to make this happen. American consumers are already clamoring for this type of technology for everything from their radios and televisions, to their computers and iPads.

Imagine - no more political ads!

The danger we run in living our lives without any disagreeable input is the risk of all Americans becoming like miniature versions of Missouri Congressman Todd Akin - or the latest Tea Party Republican candidate to make an ass of himself, Pennsylvania Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Tom Smith. Like Akin, Smith appears to have said out loud the kinds of things that previously had only been uttered in the company of other extreme conservatives. Smith's particular idiocy was stating that his daughter's out-of-wedlock pregnancy from consensual sex was similar to rape.

The kinds of ideas Akin and Smith support seem loopy to most Americans, in large part because we're all forced on a daily basis to deal with one another - a broad range of people, with a diverse set of beliefs. We have the opportunity to be diverse, but we still must find common ground with each other. That broad diversity is one reason it's hard to say America, as a nation, has just a single culture.

If over-homogenizing our lives gets to be as easy as pushing a button on our phones, America itself could - more easily than ever - become a country in name only. We'd be hundreds of millions of people, each living in our own little worlds, only associating with people just like us, and only taking in the kinds of media and information that already support and reinforce exactly what we already believe.

After looking at the RNC Convention in Tampa, maybe America doesn't need the latest technology from Apple after all.

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