Conflicted by upgrades and downloads

Published 9:46 pm Thursday, February 23, 2012

It’s not always good to take a closer look at yourself. Because sometimes in doing so, you discover some disturbing things about yourself.

And the last time I looked at myself, I realized that at any given moment I have at least three devices on my person, whether it’s a smartphone that makes me feel dumb, a Nintendo DS that makes me feel alive and ashamed all at once, or a tablet that I still can’t quite find two sensible uses for other than to satisfy my curiosity for how things like this work.

It’s not that I’m a techno-junkie or anything. I justify these electronics by saying it’s simply keeping up with the times. You know, why use a gigantic desktop computer when there are laptops and tablets small enough and capable enough to make you feel like you can command a satellite in space?


Email newsletter signup

Strangely enough, though, I never had a need to have so many electronic devices. I’ve always been the type of person who believes that one should only acquire the technology one needs. Why should I get a tablet that’s built for a life-on-the-go when I’m never really more than two feet from my laptop? Is it curiosity? Or is surrounding oneself with all kinds of new-fangled gadgets the new version of a mid-life crisis?

Whatever it is, I must say that the old me is having a good hearty laugh at the new me’s expense. The old me barely wanted to get a cell phone. He never liked the notion of people being able to reach him anywhere he was. The old me liked the adventure of getting lost in the world, without a GPS to guide him home.

So, is the new me, saddled with all his cool, new devices on his utility belt, happier than the old me? It’s really tough to say. Because there are pros and cons to grabbing hold of the bucking bronco of technology.

Pro: Convenience is a nice addition to my life. Having a cell phone would have greatly benefited the old me when my 1981 Honda Civic broke down in the rain so many years ago. I could have avoided being soaked to the core in filthy rainwater and getting the flu from walking to get to a phone. And I could have gotten in a few rounds of “Angry Birds” on my tablet while I waited for the wrecker.

Con: Having technology in your life means having technical support and sales representatives on your nerves. I consider myself a patient person, but I don’t seem to have much luck when it comes to getting the help I need. If there’s an icon I’m suppose to press to upgrade my particular model, I simply can’t find it. If there’s a warranty I could have used to save me hundreds of dollars, it just ran out. And as I sit listening to Wings’ “Silly Love Songs” for the ninth time while I wait for an operator to assist me, I can hear the old me just laughing his head off at me between verses.

So, as I surround myself with all the gadget and do-dads I can, I’m trying to find a balance that the old and new me can agree on. The old me does like being able to access movies pretty anytime and anywhere. But the new me is longing for the days when happiness didn’t require a touchscreen or monitor.

So I guess it’s best to determine early on in life just how you feel about technology and stay the course. It’s a good way to avoid fighting with yourself. Because no matter who wins, you lose.