Maybe it’s wanton consumerism, or maybe it’s just human nature, but we seem to be fascinated with obtaining new products.

For example, I got a new computer the other day. Not that I didn’t need one.

My old computer had suffered quite a bit of damage due to carting it around the world and breaking it out to write on planes, trains, in rain storms and little mountain cafes surrounded by mud and wet. The top panel of the computer had actually been pried up, giving the keyboard a bent look, and the five and six numeric keys had decided they would work when they felt like it.

I definitely needed a new computer. Right? Right?!

Well, I researched. I looked at video cards, at new processor speeds, decided if I wanted a backlit keyboard, and agonised over how much RAM I really needed to do what I need to do. When I finished deliberating over which computer to get and finally got the new computer, I spent a weekend checking it, making sure all the drivers were working correctly, downloading the apps I had on the old computer, and transferring all my information over, including all my personalised settings so my new computer would run like my old one.

And now it does exactly that. Like, exactly exactly. Like, I can’t tell the difference.

The Internet browser, word processing, spreadsheets, all run smoothly, just as smoothly as they ran on my old computer. Games – which I’ll be honest was a bit of the reason I wanted to upgrade – look marginally better if I squint just right but ultimately run the same. The new computer is – except for the bent keyboard and fully functional number keys – completely the same as my old.

So what was the point of upgrading?

We’re in an era of “Good Enough Computing”, meaning that the basic things most of us use every day are running as fast as they can run on whatever computer we use. Getting double the processing power doesn’t do these tasks any faster so upgrading our computers really makes no sense. Tech experts are already predicting that a future is coming where the majority of us will fulfil our computing needs with our smartphones, and we honestly might be there already.

It isn’t like the past where processing power doubled every two years, making an old computer completely useless. I remember in the mid-1990s buying a PC and wondering if I need 6 gigabytes or 8 gigabytes and a tech savvy friend of mind laughed and said I would never use up a whole 6 gigs of data! That much storage is insane! But now we have three times that amount of storage sitting in our pockets in most smartphones.

Today, unless you work in 3D modelling or are into playing video games, there is no real point in upgrading your computer. Computers have gone from being obsolete after a few months to being the tech version of male underwear – you might as well use them until they disintegrate around your genitals. Metaphori-cally, of course.

And it’s the same for smartphones.

Every time Apple releases a new phone, people go crazy, they line up for hours and hours, sacrifice their well-being, contemplate selling their children, froth from their mouths, just to be the first one to sport the new gear. But isn’t that a let down too? Aside from the release of the early iPhone, which really introduced the era of the smartphone, all their releases have been like the release of every other company’s new phones: a slight upgrade on the old one that you barely notice once it’s in your hand and posting photos to Instagram and stalking people on Facebook. So after you get over a slightly different looking screen, or whatever minor cosmetic change has been implemented, you’re back to using the exact same phone in pretty much the same way as you always have. You’re just minus about US$500.

It seems to be in our nature to crave the new. But craving newer technology today is a nonsensical anti-climax. So as I sit here, typing on my expensive new computer, realising that this experience was the exact same on my shabby, slightly broken laptop, I’m promising myself that from now on, no new smartphones or computers for me.

From now on I’ll treat my electronics like underwear and use them until they’re riddled with holes, almost paper thin, and the waist band is stretched to the point of uselessness – again, metaphorically, of course. Then I can use the saved money on something that will make a difference. Like finally buying some new underwear.


Catch Jason Godfrey on The LINK on Life Inspired (Astro B.yond Ch 728).