Unlike the latest iPhone, the essence of today cannot be marketed as good.

It can’t be bottled and labelled ‘new and improved’ in bold italics. However, neither can it be compared to the off-putting scent of a perfume left standing far too long. The release of the new iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro on 20th September 2019 was the bittersweet realisation that despite the good we can observe in today’s society, it is far too tainted by the bad.

We live in an innovative society, one that’s determined and hardworking. Among us are the Einstein, Van Gogh and Galileo of tomorrow. From the invention of the World Wide Web in 1990 and the discovery of cardiac stem cells in 2003, to Apple’s latest innovation of the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro in 2019, our society has achieved an admirable level of success in the last three decades alone. Thousands of people have done good, selfless and mind-blowing things - doctors, scientists, our beloved entertainers and even just kind strangers who have offered to buy a warm drink for homeless individuals have contributed positively to this world.

Steve Jobs was the original co-founder of the global company we know and rely on: Apple. His legacy lives on through Tim Cook, the current CEO of Apple. Thanks to Cook’s team of incredible engineers, the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, siblings of the first humble iPhone which reached markets in 2008, hit shop floors on 20th September 2019. Since then, the undeniable fact that, as a society, we keep wanting the newest and latest things, has been brought to attention once more.

Though the release of the breakthrough iPhone 11 Pro, with a triple camera, 4K video and an A13 bionic chip, must be celebrated, it too, however, has to be blamed for igniting the relentless materialism which our society refuses to let go of. On 20th September, a queue, which spanned the entire 2nd floor of the Bentall Centre in Kingston, formed in the early morning and continued to remain this length as a continuous stream of eager customers awaited the moment that would bring them supposed ‘joy and satisfaction’: finally getting hold of the incredible new iPhones.

Some could comfortably afford them, whilst others weren’t preoccupied with how their financial position would be affected by such a purchase. Ana Sanchez, a regular Kingston visitor, said “though my current iPhone is in very good condition and functions perfectly well, I can’t help but want to get the latest one”. Can we blame her? Aren’t we all guilty of being too materialistic? Nowadays, too often we base our happiness on objects and belongings rather than on experiences and the good deeds that we’ve done.

Kingston was a hub of excitement on 20th September, and if we visit the Apple store in the Bentall Centre today, we will find that demand for the latest iPhones has continued. This is a problem. It’s a problem for us a society; we fail to see that our phones don’t need to be replaced (as long as they’re in working condition) and that greater satisfaction comes from spending time with friends and family or doing simple acts of kindness. Rather than going to visit a dear friend or an elderly relative, many newly crowned owners of the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro left Bentall Centre only to spend time with their latest purchase.

This sense of materialism also blurs out the hardships of those less fortune, who are in such proximity to us. The high street in Kingston is not only home to some of our favourite shops and cafes, but, unfortunately, it is also the cold, harsh home of the homeless. Whilst many left the Apple Store with wide smiles stretched across their faces on 20th September, the homeless members of our society remained disregarded. The crowds that had been after the iPhone 11 or the iPhone 11 Pro simply dispersed without a second thought. The homeless? Their lives remained unchanged.

The release of a new iPhone should only appeal to those who truly need it, not to society as a whole. We need to rein in this terrible sense of materialism and instead focus on what truly matters: precious moments with loved ones, helping those in need and finally being able to say that the essence of today is great! By the launch of the next iPhone, let’s hope we’ll have found real joy in our lives and left behind the focus on possessions.

Alex Pyatnytska, Esher College