Following on from my last post, it got me thinking about the fact that, OK, you’ve got your shiny new upgraded item (whatever it might be), and guess what…it’s got errors or bugs in it!
After the slightly strange thing whereby we buy something we don’t actually need, the real con on the part of the sellers is that it often doesn’t actually do what it is supposed to. While this isn’t usually a mechanical fault, they knowingly release items which have bugs in them, and wait for the customers to report the faults so they can be fixed!
With the advent of the internet, it has seemingly made it acceptable for products (primarily software) to be sold which are basically faulty…”But it’s OK because we’ll patch it later” seems to be the mantra.
Think about iOS iterations, think about MS Windows, think about updates to console game software. Granted some of these patches are a necessary security requirement but so many are because people are basically flogging shoddy goods which have been rushed to market to meet the latest upgrade cycle…the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was a real classic example for all of the wrong reasons. Imagine if they sold cars that had faulty brakes…oh, that’s right, Toyota did that one already!
And yet we tolerate it as acceptable because having updates is better than having faults. We con ourselves and we allow ourselves to be conned.
I’ve been thinking of late about how we are seemingly all sucked in – in some way, shape or form – to the cycle of upgrading technology.
The latest mobile phone, the latest annual iteration of a computer game, the latest remake of a classic film, the latest TV…whatever it is, we are sold a new item which replaces something which is not even close to being obsolete, and often that new item doesn’t even do anything markedly different to that which it is replacing and is simply a set of new gimmicks. Is this the ultimate con trick of these companies who make new technologies? If they were actually being deceitful about their items, I’d say yes, but we allow ourselves to just go along and spend our hard-earned cash on something which is probably 95% identical to the last one in its functionality and gives us only fleeting satisfaction (and maybe an opportunity to gloat at someone who doesn’t have it – like they even care). Are we conning ourselves?
I’ve inherited my last two mobile phones. At one point I went into a store to look at the latest iPhone and asked the shop assistant about the different models available. He asked me what I needed the phone for and I said “to make calls and send texts”, to which he honestly replied, “why don’t you just get an older one?”. Refreshing.
When you upgrade your mobile phone (as an example, and assuming you just buy the same brand), the first thing you do is set it up exactly like the old one, and iTunes even does this for you! There isn’t really much fun in it or much reason to explore. It doesn’t seem to make much sense if it isn’t replacing obsolescence, except for those companies who want to keep making lots of money so they can keep designing small improvements to roll out next time. Perhaps it is simply the milking of brand loyalty by large corporations.
It is hard to understand how we can get so much gratification from this, and yet somehow we do, me included with certain products. Surely it would make sense for us to upgrade less often and actually feel like we are getting something that is actually much better (maybe even life-changing) instead of just mildly different? We’d have the added benefit of saving some of the earth’s scarce resources if we upgraded any consumable items less often, which would be an added bonus, although at least older phones can be dismantled by machine and the valuable components re-used.
Something for us all to think about.
This is a bit of a shameless plug for two things…and somewhat out of kilter with the rest of regular 42world content.
First up, I’ve recently written a new comedic sci-fi novel called “Baabaric” which is now available as an e-book for the Amazon Kindle. If anyone who owns a Kindle (or has a Kindle reader app on their device) is interested in taking a punt on a new author like me, please do so! It’ll only cost you peanuts so if you decide to have a go, I personally thank you and I hope you enjoy it!
Secondly, I’ve launched a new blog (please follow if you’d like to) to sit alongside this new world I’ve created, set in the village of Nether-Staining, so if anyone fancies taking a look, you can find it at www.netherstaining.wordpress.com.
In case anyone is concerned, worry not as my musings on this blog will continue.
Thanks for reading!
Following on from my recent post about buying Palm Oil free products, I was thinking about the choices we make as consumers, and the irresponsible actions of businesses.
Why do we need plastic straws in our drinks when there are sustainable alternatives?
Why do we need Christmas Crackers? These invariably go into the bin on the same day!
Why do we need little plastic “toys” or suchlike in cereal packets (or indeed Christmas Crackers)? It seems absurd that these add any value to anyone.
Why do some food items come packaged in both a box AND a bag?
In the digital age, do we really need to send paper birthday (and other occasion) cards around the world?
When was the last time you refused free plastic bags? We don’t need them most of the time, nor should we want them.
As a consumer, I feel underinformed at times about what the most sustainable option is for my purchase (often you don’t even get a choice)…as a business, I suspect they just want to make as much money as possible by hooking people in, but maybe we can alter the behaviour of businesses if we begin to shift away from cheap wasteful gimmicks and analyse “traditions”.
I recently stayed in an hotel which provided a little bag encouraging you to take any toiletries away with you. The sentiment is great as opposed to leaving partially used items in the room that must often just go in a bin, so I applaud it in that regard, but why is a bag required? Why not just a small sign or a note in a guestbook? As a concept it seems up there with humans producing a paper leaflet about saving trees. Scenic Hotels – this is not an ECO bag…it is a bag that did not need to be made at all…you have wasted resources in an effort not to waste resources. THINK!
One final musing on NZ TV, if you’ll permit me, and that is the extensive presence of the infomercial.
A lack of big business advertising clearly leaves a space for someone to want to try to flog what often appear to be naff products that you really don’t need. Who knew that you needed something to peel a clove of garlic? How about something to stand on that vibrates and supposedly helps you become thin and healthy? How about a nutrition extractor (aka a fancy blender)? Perhaps a military-style torch is the answer to your prayers? Maybe you could be tempted by an 8-shapes-in-1 pillow? Or how about the infomercial to end them all…life insurance – perhaps they realised that watching them makes you consider taking your own!
You name it, and if it’s really quite poor and cast off from abroad, then they’ll advertise it for several minutes at a time…and all without telling you the price. Boredom guaranteed. Who buys all this rubbish?
It is no wonder that On Demand TV seems so popular here in NZ, to the extent that they don’t seem to care too much about scheduling in the first place…great to have a retreat where you can dodge the majority of adverts.
And just one more thing, the frequency of adverts increases during a programme. If you are watching a movie then you often have no adverts for the first half hour, but by the end you are blessed with their presence every ten minutes or so. Annoying indeed.
When you have grown up with the BBC as your staple provider of entertainment and news, you realise when you go elsewhere in the world how good the BBC seems by comparison. Impartial (in the main), balanced, no adverts etc etc.
In NZ, there are the usual smattering of news providers on different channels but to be frank, in a country of 4.5 million people there isn’t a lot of news to report. In some ways this is great! It is great that a car crash with one fatality still makes it on to the news (especially if a foreign driver is involved), it is great that a murder still outrages people, it is great that someone holding up a petrol station, while wearing a onesie, to obtain cigarettes is newsworthy…but let us also be honest, in this desensitised age, it is not very exciting either.
To fill up the allotted news time, we end up with what appear to be sponsored stories about new products, new movies etc. I also feel at times like it is painful to see who can qualify as a reporter with their dubious command of the English language.
Which brings me to my final bit of info, channel Three here in NZ has started doing an entertainment show based around the news each weeknight with a studio audience. It is called The Project (if anyone wants to look it up online) and is based on an Australian format from what I have read. When I first heard about it I remember thinking that things must’ve really got desperate on already quite poor NZ TV, but I actually think it is really good! They somehow deliver the main stories and balance having a good laugh about them where they can with the serious messages and debate/opinion. Why shouldn’t the news be entertaining instead of depressing?
At the end of the day, some serious stories take some believing sometimes anyway so why not laugh about it all…has Donald Trump REALLY been elected President? Has the UK REALLY opted to leave the European Union?
In New Zealand, there is a real culture of Do-It-Yourself. From building homes to renovating homes, the isolation of the country and a lack of nearby tradesmen in many places has probably facilitated this culture of people being more self-sufficient.
This translates onto the TV also, because after thinking about food TV last time out, it then occurred to me how many DIY shows are on TV. There are shows from NZ, Australia, Canada, USA and the UK all about this same thing. I can actually understand this a little more here in NZ because of the culture and I suppose these shows give people ideas on how they might change their abode but how many is too many?
But then I wondered something else, on one Australian show where it is as plain as day that they are shopping in Bunnings (a DIY store which I believe has just arrived in the UK), are shows like this really just a blatant sponsored attempt to get you to spend money in those places?