OPINION: Dengue fever and the Shibuya Apple Store


Jackon Mote is a junior French major 
from Indianapolis.

Japan is experiencing its first epidemic of dengue fever in over 70 years. The Japanese Health Ministry has reported at least 131 confirmed cases of the disease. They believe that the outbreak came from infected mosquitoes Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park, which has several small bodies of water. 

The Shibuya Apple Store is located very close to Yoyogi Park, the ground zero of the dengue epidemic. Apple fans began lining up, at this location, to purchase the iPhone 6 and 6+ as early as last Tuesday. They slept on lawn chairs and blankets all week, waiting until Friday to get their new devices. In some cases, they were being paid to wait in line for other people who had the resources but not the patience to get their new iPhone.

The connection between these two locations, the new iPhone and dengue fever creates an interesting scenario, which is why I ask you the following:

 Would you ever wait for an extended period of time, in a possibly medically unsafe environment to get the newest iteration of a smartphone?

I haven’t conducted a poll to verify answers, but it is safe to assume that most logically thinking people would say answer no.

But this is where things get interesting. The argument can be made that at a certain income for waiting in line, the choice to pay someone to wait may be cost effective for the buyer if the value of their time is higher than the salary being paid. If the person waiting in line considers that the value of their time was lower than the expected income that they would receive from the device’s buyer, then it makes relative sense to say yes.

In the case of the dengue fever outbreak in Japan, we must connect the closeness of the Shibuya Apple Store to  Yoyogi park. The people who waited in line could have been exposed to dengue-infected mosquitoes from the neighboring park. If infected by these mosquitoes, they could have faced lethal consequences. However, the health ministry has been using insecticide to clear the park of mosquitoes and trapping mosquitoes to check for disease since the outbreak. Therefore, it is possible that the eager Apple fans who waited were not infected with dengue by the mosquitoes.

Beyond the speculation of any infection, the aforementioned question is still brought to light. It seems odd that people would risk their health for a new iPhone. But hey, I guess that’s just how the culture of needing the most up -to-date technology has made some of us.

When you focus too much on the features, technical specifications and having the newest possible smart phones, you lose the magic of their benefits. 

 I implore you to not look at people with older smart phones as less in tune with life.

Sometimes, the person with the scratched-up iPhone 3G is cooler than the person who just picked up their immaculate-looking gold iPhone 6+.