Defenses are weakening as devices age
My smartphone is aging. The screen doesn’t always respond to my finger, the camera is mildly fogged over from scratches and dust on the inside, and the metal bits have little divots from drops. Sometimes when I press the “home” button, nothing happens.
My laptop is sluggish, too. The U key is sticky, the processor is beginning to struggle amidst a wealth of recent programs, and certain features aren’t available to my 4-plus-year-old computer. Every now and then the computer freezes up and I constantly have to be vigilant.
I’m a massive tech nerd, and when I begin to see cracks in performance and usage, I immediately jump to one conclusion: time for an upgrade. I can quickly rationalize the “need” for new. Look at all of these aforementioned faults and — hey! — I’m a digital writer/blogger. I need these things, right?
Lusting for the latest
In college I upgraded computers about every year at great expense. Smartphone upgrade plans didn’t matter to me. I spent the full price when necessary and negotiated early upgrades when possible.
The smell of freshly molded plastic was a beautiful sensation. I lusted after that unboxing process — from the plastic wraps to physical perfection. Hundreds — no, thousands — were spent to maintain this status and newness. I couldn’t stand to keep something that no longer was the point of affection for others. The commercials had changed to newer, “better” devices, and I unconsciously moved in unison.
Juxtaposed with my love for the latest and greatest was a powerful disgust that developed for the old. That technology became embarrassing and frustrating for me. But now, I’m holding back for the first time in my life.
Learning to resist the urge to upgrade
Admittedly, this process of buying less and refusing to upgrade early has been slow. After years of buying conspicuously, I’ve turned a new leaf. I don’t want to buy new immediately anymore. Here’s what keeps me grounded:
Value comes in time — it’s not a flash in the pan.
I want to purchase devices that last and take advantage of that worth. And there’s a lot of time to take advantage of lasting material goods. Think about it, life expectancy for those in the U.S. is about 78.7 years. That only leaves a set number of devices, objects, and material possessions over the course of a lifetime. Make them count.
Climate change is worsening
There are other reasons to resist the spending. Constant changes in technology and devices contribute to far greater climate change. Those electronics and material goods are likely made in China, shipped or flown across the Pacific Ocean, and trucked and trained to their final destinations. From the packaging, production, transportation, and actual purchase, tremendous amounts of energy must be used. And most of it is from fossil fuels — the kind that contributes to climate change.
Forever young only exists in music lyrics
I cannot help but notice that the same magazines, newspapers, and websites that advertise beauty products also share the latest gadgets. The beauty culture encourages us to stay young; forever, at great cost. Similarly, our beauty culture has disconnected and made us feel fearful about aging. Our devices are no longer timeless investments — they are planned for obsolescence. Be wary of these messages that try to subtly obliterate your older device.
That money can go to a million better places
If the preceding reasons weren’t enough, it costs a lot of money to upgrade constantly. Save the money, put it to work in the stock market, donate it to charity, or fix your bike. Nearly anything is better than spending it on a slightly newer device.
Can our devices get worn in, and could we actually begin to appreciate this character and value? How did we become so fearful of having something old?