It’s finally happened: I think I’ve O’D” on consumer technology! Me, a devout technology/media nerd, may have hit critical mass when it comes to tech! While never having an extreme urge to be an early adapter of any technology, I try to keep abreast of and understand (sometimes in a broad sense!) how things work, been unintimidated to operate them when I get my hands on them, enjoy discovering what they do, and who will benefit from having and using the tech. But I also try to be aware of the sociological and cultural impact of these technologies! Who uses them and why? And, how deeply do these things infiltrate the marketplace and consciousness of their intended audience and the general public?
Like many people, there are technologies for which I may have no personal use, and some I choose to ignore; even things that could possibly even benefit me in some way. But, being a utilitarian, if there’s no ongoing benefit of use in the ownership of a piece of technology, then why should I deal with it? Just because something is “cool”, “new” or “different” doesn’t mean there will be personal benefits to the purchaser! Unless you are of unlimited financial means, owning the latest & greatest shiny object of desire isn’t always necessary. For example, if texting hadn’t grown to be so ubiquitous, I could have remained happy with a simple flip phone. Or, if my home were located where it could actually receive over-the-air TV signals, I would be happy with that and some streaming options and be far less attracted to cable or satellite reception.
Understanding how a piece of technology is usable within the framework of your life and personal needs is important in making an informed decision prior to purchase. This is a much harder task today than a generation ago. Once upon a time there were specialty retailers – some sold computers, others sold audio gear, others sold TV’s, and still others sold household appliances. They could help you learn and understand if a piece of tech was something you really needed. Today, specialty retailers are far fewer in number. Big box retailers sell the bulk of these goods, all under one roof, along with the myriad of ancillary products to go along with them.
What we once considered separate technologies have morphed to where now computers are considered household appliances and refrigerators are networked consumer electronic devices. Yes, you can still buy a fridge that just keeps your food cold. But the latest models can also come equipped with wifi along with internal and external video cameras so that you know what’s inside without opening the door, can place an order for delivery from your local grocery store, access recipes from your own collection or find new ones online, or video chat with grandma about her oatmeal raison cookie formula, all from the front of your “ice box.”
We’ve long had multi-function printers that scan, copy and fax in addition to print, replacing 4 machines with one. Our mobile phones make calls but they replaced the need to carry separate music players and cameras, and they have more computing power than early desktop PC’s. Cars today, even ones that still run on gasoline, all have numerous computing circuits and sensors, many connected to cellular or satellite networks to advise you where you are, that you’re too close to another vehicle or obstruction, connect you to your home or office, entertainment options or emergency help should you need it and still get you where you want to go.
Adding complications and frustration for the tech obsessed are the security issues involved with everything that accesses the internet. Every device that connects to the ‘net has some form of security protocol, some easier to use than others. Choosing to ignore those security protocols opens you up to breaches of home or office security, potentially allowing the unscrupulous to access your personal data, make uninvited changes to your devices and their settings, violating your privacy, maybe spying on you, and subjecting you to identity theft.
With all those security protocols come the necessity of maintaining passwords and access codes. You’re not supposed to use the same passwords for everything, and best practices dictate changing passwords regularly and frequently on all your accounts, but keeping track of this information is a royal pain that most people do not take the time to manage properly. Even if you’re using a password generator, you may have less to keep track of, but you must still be vigilant in maintaining your security.
Think about the tech that you use, particularly the devices that access the internet. Computers, laptops, tablets, smart phones, game consoles, home security cameras, music and video servers, televisions, A/V receivers, wireless speakers, smart appliances, and other IOT (internet of things) devices all require access to wifi and require their own passwords. Not securing your devices is like leaving your doors unlocked with your valuables in plain sight. It would really suck if someone you didn’t know or authorize accessed your personal data!!
The bottom line here is: Don’t allow your frustration with your technology to interfere with the security of your devices and home network. If you need a break from the tech, take a walk and leave your tech at home. It might make you a bit anxious at first, but it can also be freeing. Taking breaks at regular intervals can keep you from burning out on your tech, and helps reduce the inherent frustration and stress that come with owning any piece of technology. Whatever it takes, try not to get teched out.