Goldstuck on Gadgets

You don’t have to make excuses for your old tech

June 28th, 2016
The next ten years will see the most rapid advances in the history of technology, but sometimes it will be okay to be left behind, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
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The coming ten years will see technology advance so rapidly, it will sometimes feel like we’ve moved to another planet. That is terrible news for those who already feel they’ve been left behind, or are bewildered by the pace of change since the beginning of the 21st century.

But there is good news. In most cases, no one will force them to embrace new technology. Of course, they will be at a massive disadvantage if they don’t, but in many cases they won’t experience it as a disadvantage – unless friends, family and colleagues try to rub it in their faces.

One of the greatest drawbacks of rapid adoption of new technology in the mainstream market is that those who hold onto the old are often ridiculed and made to feel inadequate. However, there is another way of viewing this behavior by seemingly hip, happening people who regard themselves as being in the know and therefore superior to those who haven’t embraced the new.

Such people are, in fact, in need of validation. Typically, they have spent a large amount of money on new technology. Whether or not the cost was justified is beside the point. The truth is that they feel a need to justify it to everyone else. That, often, is the psychology lurking behind Apple and Samsung users, for example, mocking each other for using the “wrong” technology.

But there is no such thing as wrong technology. If it works for you, that’s what matters. If someone else feels superior to you because of what works for you, the problem clearly lies with them. Feeling superior because of the technology you use is like feeling superior because of the city or town in which you were born. And anyone who feels superior because of an accident of birth is demonstrably a fool.

Just as you shouldn’t have to make excuses about where you were born, you shouldn’t have to make excuses about the technology you use.

For example, you don’t have to make excuses if:

* You use an old BlackBerry or Nokia. It still works, right? It still does everything you want it to do right? That’s the only thing that matters, unless it puts you at a practical disadvantage or is costing you more to use.

* You prefer printed newspaper to online news. It can be shown that someone who reads a newspaper from cover to cover is more informed, with better general knowledge across news, entertainment and sport, than someone who relies only on headlines fed by social media. People who rely on digital news typically filter out everything that does not fit their specific interests, and their range of interests tends to narrow.

* You like paper books instead of e-readers. Guess what? Paper is superior technology here, as a book doesn’t need to be recharged, and lasts for decades after a current e-reader is obsolete. Yes, you have to buy each book separately, but doesn’t it look great on what we one called a “bookshelf”? Most of us have yet to install a Kindle-shelf in our homes.

* You don’t have a solar-powered geyser. South African electricity is  still among the cheapest in the world, and the savings from solar power versus electricy for this purpose seldome results in a return on investment. The reason? The upfront cost of installation and the ongoing cost of regularly replacing batteries is sometimes never recouped during the typical home-ownership lifespan.

* Your family doesn’t have the latest gaming console or tablet. The physical world out there is far more interesting than any digital world – but only if you allow it to be. Those without the latest toys are far more likely to allow it.

These are just a few examples, and some are generalisations. Everything depends on your own circumstances, needs and resources.

The flip side of this reality is that the opportunities represented by technology in the next decade will be massive for those who embrace change. The way we work, play, live, transact, travel, learn, educate, medicate and communicate will be utterly changed.

While it will be  possible to live comfortably in the cracks between the new and the old, the real question is why you would want to do so. You don’t have to justify it to anybody else: just be certain that it is what you want for yourself.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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