Predictions are usually wrong, so I hate to make them. But here’s one I’m sure of.
A company you like will release an improved version of a product you own. You will want this improved version, and will dwell on that desire – spurred on by advertising and glittery reviews. You may ultimately purchase it, and upon doing so will think that you’re finally happy with your technology.
In a few weeks, however, your new device will be more or less serving the same role as your old device – and you’ll have less money.
Of course, this is only a prediction. You don’t have to fulfill it. But you probably will. We all probably will.
Downsides Of The Latest
We all hear, constantly, about the many benefits of buying the latest and greatest thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s a console, a phone, a laptop or a video game: advertising and buzz makes you want what’s new. We all hear, constantly, that new is better.
What’s discussed less often are the downsides to the latest, so here are a few:
- You’ll lack information. When you buy the latest thing, you’re assuming it’s going to be better in every way. This might be true, but it also might not be – there may be issues, or limitations you didn’t expect. The earlier you buy a gadget, the less information you’ll have about what to expect. Reviews and tutorials take some time to pop up online; the earlier you buy something new, the longer you’ll be on your own.
- There will be bugs. Test as they may, every major device seems to have a few quirks at launch. Users find them quickly, and eventually they’re fixed. This is fine, but the earlier you buy a gadget the more likely you are to run into these problems.
- It’s going to cost more. Every gadget costs the most the day it is released. Having the latest is nice, but is it really worth the premium?
Robert Wiesehan outlines how a little restraint can save you from disappointing games. I’d say the same is true for any laptop, smartphone or tablet you’re thinking of buying. Getting it now can be nice, but getting it later means you’ll be better informed, deal with fewer bugs and pay less.
Waste Not, Want Not
There’s a mind-blowing amount of waste in the rich world. You could join in, rushing to the latest and greatest thing, throwing away the previous latest and greatest thing while you’re at it. Or you can take advantage of this excess, save a ton of money and contribute just a little less to the waste stream.
The Digital Dump Infographic via GOOD
Anyone who shops at thrift stores knows what I’m talking about. You can find great shirts for $3, compared to the $50 and up people pay at the mall. You could, if you wanted to, think of tech the same way. You don’t necessarily need to buy used, but you could skip what’s newest.
You’ll enjoy every brand new piece of technology just as much years from now as you will today – and you’ll pay a lot less for it.
Think about game consoles. If you’re a generation behind, every game you could possibly want to play is dirt cheap on the used market. Can you play the latest thing? No. But do you really need the latest thing? Don’t you still have a bunch of games sitting around your house you haven’t played yet? Aren’t there still games from the last gen you never got around to playing?
I’m not saying everyone who buys the latest thing is dumb, or a bad person. But they’re certainly spending more money, and I don’t think they’re enjoying life any more because of it.
It’s Not The Tech That Counts…
It’s what you do with it.
My college roommate was really into the idea of working out. He was convinced he was going to do it, but there was always one more thing he needed to buy first. A heart rate monitor, a GPS, a better pair of headphones – it didn’t matter. Something was always keeping him from committing to a regular workout schedule.
All he ultimately needed to do was start working out, of course, and no item he bought was going to make him do that. Discipline was the only thing he really needed, but that’s internal – and changing yourself internally is hard.
Advertising constantly tells us that internal change isn’t necessary, that there is always something external you can purchase that will prompt the proper change in you.
You might think you’ll be more productive if you get a new laptop. Maybe you’re right. But take the time to think about it.
Don’t Buy; Remake
I don’t need to tell you “geek culture”, whatever that means, has been hijacked – the existence of The Big Bang Theory proves that well enough. At some point, it was decided that being a geek meant buying a crap ton of gadgets. This happens anytime advertisers decide to make something “cool” in order to sell things, and it’s happening now.
But you don’t have to buy into it. Being a geek isn’t about buying technology – it’s about making technology work for you.
To me, installing a custom ROM on your old Android phone is way geekier than upgrading. Learning how to speed up your PC is geekier than simply replacing it. Bringing an old computer to life with Ubuntu is geekier than buying a new one. Setting up XBMC as your media center on an unused machine is geekier than buying an Apple TV.
You get the idea. You can do amazing things with technology otherwise seen as obsolete. You’ll not only feel like you have a new gadget to play with – you’ll also feel like you accomplished something.
So wait to upgrade. You’re not missing out. There’ll be time to upgrade later.
Disagree? Let me know in the comments below, or share your tips for re-using old hardware. I’m looking forward to both kinds of comments.
Image Credits: SALES GIMMICK Via Shutterstock