People often wonder why I don’t embrace technology more than I do. I use computers for my work and I have to keep those up to date. But I don’t own a smart phone. My phone is stupid and used only for talking. I’ve given up on video games. I don’t have an iPad. I only have a Kindle because reading is my true joy and I can’t carry twenty books on a plane. I’ve given up on owning anything like DVD’s or CD’s, or even downloadable content. The reason for my technology avoidance isn’t fear or even dislike. It’s simple exhaustion.
I used to keep up with every technological gizmo that hit the market. I was an early adopter. I had all the gadgets. Gradually, though, I got frustrated. When a new game system came out, my old games were no longer compatible. When Apple shifted from PPC to Intel processors, many of my older games and applications became (or have since become) incompatible. Now my DVD’s and CD’s are on the way out.
I have no doubt that the MP3 and other digital formats of today will eventually give way to something else. The equipment will change and the formats of today will no longer be compatible. The apps on cell phones today won’t wonk two or three generations down the line. My choices always seem to boil down to keeping my old equipment so I can keep using the old applications, games, and files, or constantly switching, upgrading, and paying more and more just to keep up. Since I don’t have room in the house for piles of junky equipment, I end up paying more money for the upgrades.
Then there are the accessories that these things always require. The cell phone case of today won’t fit tomorrow’s model. The Kindle case has to be replaced with a new one. The screen protector won’t fit a newer model. The power cord/adapter is different on every model. And on and on. You get a new gizmo and you have to buy all new accessories, too.
One day I said, “Enough.” It’s not that I don’t enjoy technology and the ease it creates in my life, but I decided to stop sinking my money into things that don’t last. I keep my computer up to date because I have to for work. I upgrade my design and word processing software because I have to in order to keep my sills up to date and earn a living. The rest of it, I leave alone.
Now I use services like Netflix or Amazon for DVD rental or streaming. I play free online games if I have to have something to pass the time. I get my eBooks either through free downloads (legitimate, not pirated) or from the library. I use my cell phone for calls only so I buy one and use it until it gives out on me and I don’t worry whether my apps will be able to evolve with me. I look for free software alternatives rather than boxed software. (At least if it become obsolete, I didn’t pay for it.) I no longer put my money into things like game consoles, digital content that I pay to own, physical media of any sort, or equipment like cell phones, iPads, and iPods that will soon be obsolete, replaced by newer models that require different file formats. I only buy and update what I have to have to make a living. Everything else I rent or skip.
Yes, this means that I’m often behind my peers technologically. But it also means that I’m saving money. By using free or rental alternatives, I’m not wasting money buying things that I know won’t last. By deliberately keeping my technological life small, I don’t have to worry that the next new thing won’t work with my old files or require me to buy all new accessories. It not only saves money, it save me stress, too. I can buy a new computer and not have to agonize over losing valuable applications simply because the new operating system no longer supports my old stuff. I don’t have a house full of media and equipment gathering dust because I need it to access old products.
If I want to spend money on something, I buy something that I know will last like a real paper book or a board game. With proper care, those things can last a lifetime and aren’t dependent on the whims of technology. Generally, though, I choose to spend my money on experiences and things that create value in my life like home improvements, education, or travel.
Since I jumped off the technological carousel of buy, upgrade, discard, buy, repeat, I’m much happier. I save money, time, and stress and I’m not constantly distracted by technology. Technology can be a great thing and can make your life easier. But it can also make things much more difficult and expensive than they need to be.
(Photo courtesy of Joe Shlabotnik)