Simple Living/Downshifting

Don’t Buy the Newest Gadgets

The all-new Apple iPhone 3GS was just released. According to Apple it is the fastest, most powerful iPhone ever – it can launch websites and applications twice as fast, has voice control, satellite mapping with GPS, a built in compass, the ability to take pictures, videos, write text messages and send them all to your friends in the blink of an eye. It can also go to the DMV for you and fill out your paperwork. (That’s a joke.)

As a downshifting rat race escapee, it’s difficult to get me to buy anything I don’t need. As a web developer who constantly needs to be on top of his game when it comes to new technology, I can’t just ignore the new toys that come out. If I did, I’d risk not knowing something potentially valuable that my clients might want me to use while building a site. I’ve recently had to get into Twitter (something I didn’t like at all at first) for just this reason.

But even I understand how alluring and tempting some of these ad campaigns are. Just go to Apple’s homepage and today (March 18th, 2010) you can see the huge new iPad ad. It looks so sleek, elegant and important. “I want to be sleek, elegant and important” we think. So, we buy an iPad, thinking less about whether or not we need an iPad and more about how it will make us feel about ourselves.

For a long time I had a cell phone that came out in 2001. It did what it was supposed to do – I could call people, send them text messages, and it even had speed dial. I learned to value these functions and was able to make use of all three of them frequently. The phone finally died last year, so I was forced to upgrade. I saved money by purchasing an old model from 2006. This one takes pictures and has voice dial. I don’t use the last function. I would argue that owners of this new iPhone will not use 85% of the functions that the phone is capable of performing throughout the course of ownership. Some of these phones go for about $200, while my simple phone from 2006 was about $60.

And I’m getting far more worthwhile use from this phone.

Do I really need to be able to check my e-mail while I’m sitting at a restaurant? Or play video games on my phone while on the bus? If I want to do these things, I can go home and do them. I can get on my laptop to check the internet, or I can go to an arcade to play video games (if I want to be a kid again!)

If you really want to try downshifting your life, and save money while you are at it – join the bandwagon. Don’t buy the newest gadgets. Make sure that everything you own has a purpose. If you have an item that’s just sitting on the shelf collecting dust, then you don’t need it! But if you have a perfectly good cell phone that does what it’s supposed to do, why upgrade?

Your hi-tech, sleek, pretty new gadget doesn’t make you hi-tech, sleek and pretty. It just makes you a person with a high-tech, sleek and pretty gadget that is $200 poorer and needs to work on his self-esteem. 🙂


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