⚡ Own your gadgets — don't let them own you. Discover some of the traps that come with buying the latest gadgets.

A man wearing a virtual reality headset — an example of a recent gadget.Own your gadgets — don’t let them own you | Blog post by Rob Crews

The new iPhone 8 can be charged wirelessly — you place the phone on a charging mat which is then plugged into the wall. Although this is only slightly more convenient than simply plugging your phone into the wall directly, it’s pretty likely that those who use it won’t want to return to the ‘old way’ of charging with a cable.

Oliver Burkeman’s recent article for the Guardian digs into two of the reasons why this is likely — loss aversion (a cognitive bias which means people being more upset by losses than they are thrilled by gains, explained beautifully in Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman) and the brain’s natural tendency to take the easy option (which I’ve talked about before). Once we’re used to wireless charging, the idea of losing it will seem more painful than it should (given that charging with a cable is basically the same).

Every scrap of marketing screams at us to buy the latest gadget. In many cases they do save us a lot of time — why spend hours washing clothes by hand when a washing machine can do it for you? But, as Burkeman points out, most gadgets give us tiny time savings — even if you make them seem more significant by adding them up across an entire year. And they don’t come for free.

The wireless chargers recommended by Apple cost $60 (£45). If you buy every expensive new gadget, it becomes increasingly easy to get stuck in a job that doesn’t make you happy — you need to be able to afford the next one that comes out. It also means owning another thing — minimalism would suggest that owning tons of things doesn’t make you happy (in fact, it does the opposite). And, as Burkeman suggests, aren’t these gadgets just a crutch? We make ourselves feel ‘productive‘ by saving time… but without a clear plan for using this time well, we waste it. If we’re obsessed with gadgets, I’d argue that we’re less likely to appreciate the present moment — we’re too busy on our phones.

I’m certainly not immune to techno-obsession — I’m writing this from my beloved MacBook. But I’d like to try and question each new gadget before simply diving straight in — are the (psychological) drawbacks really worth the (often small) gains?

 

I’ve written about Oliver Burkeman’s articles in the past — why time management is ruining our lives and accepting anxiety.


Also published on Medium.