They promise newer! Faster! Better!
But all I get is grumpier.
I got a work email on my phone the other morning. Let me clarify: I got a notification of a work email on my phone the other morning. When I tried to open it, I was slapped with an update notification — that I can’t do. So my email quit working. But the email notifications keep tempting me to update.
My smart phone is now a laggard, slowly falling farther behind the crest of the technology wave as its operating system cascades into antiquity.
My wake-up call should have been my bank app, which prodded me to update and then stuck me in an endless loop of hope/despair when it wouldn’t let me open the update but continued to prompt me to update. That’s update cruelty 3.0.
We should have seen this coming when Big Brother told us to toss all of our perfectly good TVs into the landfills so they could sell off the radio wave spectrum to private industry. I’m sure it was good for TV manufacturers, who now stop supporting their “screens” before you can get them out of the box, and TV stations that can add a few channels to compete with cable and satellite.
By showing us the same old shows over and over and over. But that’s what we like, right? Because that’s what they give us, right?
I’m not a luddite. I’ve survived the transition from hot lead to desktop publishing in the newspaper industry. I’ve gone from processing black and white film to digital photography and love it. I microwave my baked potatoes, and even Alton Brown says that’s OK if you finish them in the oven (https://bit.ly/2lzMfwE). I use links. I even say just “phone” now instead of “smartphone.”
That’s almost hip, right?
But do we really have to update everything so often?
Sure, it’s good for the economy if we replace everything we own like it’s fashion (don’t get me started) with an appliance/car/watch/phone/TV/#YouNameIt that’s built to either break or be unusable when #.0 is released.
But it’s not good for our wallets, or the environment, or my disposition. We probably spend more money now when we upgrade our phones than we used to spend for a lifetime of landlines.
I’m not against progress, but is there something wrong with choosing your own progress? Have we gone too far when we chuckle at Grandpa because he’s so quaint with his flip phone?
Update: My phone is now purring along with the newest, fastest, “betterest” version of its operating system. It looks like I didn’t lose anything, and now I can bank 2.0 with my phone again AND check my email.
Contact me at email@example.com and tell me about a possession of yours, a physical thing, that you can’t imagine not owning. Whether it brings you money (your Uber car), love (a wedding ring) or fond memories (that teddy bear), tell me about it in a few sentences, and send a picture. I’ll talk about them in a future column.
The writer is the pagination director for AIM Media Midwest.