I spotted this poster (on an A4 piece of paper which was stuck to the wall of a corridor, I might add) in the entrance to the library of a local educational establishment. It tickled me…largely because the intended target group for the message are unlikely to be reading said poster at all…this is what happens when someone designing posters doesn’t understand people very well…
How Long Does Yours Last? Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com
I’ve always been the sort of person to look after the things I own. I don’t like to buy things for the sake of it as a rule…and certainly not in the annual cycle that technology companies would have us believe is what we need. After several years of ownership I was thinking recently how many items I have wherein the battery seems to be starting to fade away…mobile phone, electric toothbrush, electric razor, hair clippers etc.
It occurred to me how disappointing it feels when something dies on you, and how much of our lives now seem to be spent on charge! It’s bizarre when you think about it…we have to continually have something charging. I asked Oral B about whether you can replace the battery for the toothbrush and was told that you can’t because they are a sealed unit and that I should just leave it on charge all of the time…does that seem ridiculous to anyone else?
I saw recently that Dyson have stopped developing corded vacuum cleaners so I guess batteries are very much seen as the future rather than the past…but they don’t quite seem sufficient to do what is needed long term…and with electric cars, they just don’t have the range to be entirely practical either…yet. It is a strange place we find ourselves in.
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.
While on holiday recently I did not have telephone or internet access for a week. Not because it wasn’t offered by the hotel but because I chose not to want it for this time.
It actually felt quite liberating not to be a slave to answering emails, text messages, responding to Facebook posts or even to writing blog posts (but it is nice to do so now). I instead used any downtime to get back to reading and engaging with the world around me! It has made me think about the way I live my life.
It led me to think about whether the Internet (and I will include modern smart phones in the heading even though they are different), one of the most impressive inventions in recent history is a blessing or a curse…what do you think?
- You have knowledge at your fingertips. You are never lost for answers to almost any question you can think of.
- You can always find where you are and what is around you. It is truly remarkable how your location can be pinned down.
- It is incredibly easy (and cheap) to keep in touch with friends and family, do online banking, keep across your interests etc. Time saving.
- It has enabled all of us to record our own lives and thoughts in some way for sharing and future posterity (where is it all stored?)
- It can be hard to escape…think of those who think it is OK to send you emails in the dead of night or phone you in the evening (depending on your job of course).
- We are supposedly now breeding a generation of lower-IQ individuals who are reliant on computers and all it brings. The knowledge contained therein cannot always be trusted.
- You actually waste your time looking at it – it tells you so much that you really don’t need to know but people still become addicted to it. Surely we could all be doing something else?
- Is anything really private any more?
I recently noticed that my Facebook app was taking up a huge amount of space on my iPad – around 700MB.
I did a bit of digging by asking Uncle Google and apparently this is a known issue caused by caching (Spotify also does this) which Facebook are not doing anything about. I decided I would delete the app and start again as this was the only reported way to “solve” the problem. This crashed my iPad and I then had to do a factory reset. Such fun.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I realised somewhere along this journey that I was spending far too much of my time in Facebookland when I could be doing something more useful so I did not reinstall the app. I decided I would have a break from it altogether and just log in occasionally via the internet. Problem solved.
I did wonder what this means for my keeping in touch with people and I realised that so much of what I and other people like, share or post is quite honestly meaningless nonsense – if you could only filter somehow to genuine life-related posts it would be great. When did we stop focussing on actual meaningful conversation and relationships in life? Aren’t those your real friends?
Something to think about.