I have some confessions to make. I’m typing these words on a two-year-old desktop computer that’s running Windows 7. My laptop is a 2008 black MacBook running Leopard 10.5, and my main phone is a Samsung slightly-dumb QWRTY slider. My watch is fifteen years old. I do most of my songwriting on an early 80’s Yamaha FG-335e guitar and a mid-90’s workstation keyboard. I make coffee with a pour-over Melitta setup, as I have for over a decade. I make a lot of personal notes on the index cards in my jacket pocket. Do these things make me a Luddite? Or a “laggard”, as a recent piece by professional blogger Stephanie Buck might suggest? Stephanie writes some fun and interesting stuff, but I’m not giving her piece “The opposite of the early adopter has a name, and it isn’t kind” any link love here. You can search it on Google if you like. In it, she makes a bunch of assertions about why late adopters are losers, and supports them with some half-century-old concepts from the diffusion of innovations theory. It includes this graph, which you may have seen before. People love using it when they discuss early adopters:
Presumably, someone like me would reside shamefully in the purple zone. But Buck’s piece overlooks some practical concerns, and is really just unconscious consumer-anxiety driven shilling for the kind of post-yuppy age, neo-capitalist ideas that make profitless and pointless tech companies like Twitter possible. Which makes her blogging job possible.
Defensive? Me? Defensive?
At the risk of coming across like some 21st century Andy Rooney, I couldn’t just let it slide. I don’t take any pride in being a laggard, but what I do take pride in is making smart choices. And smart choices don’t always mean adopting the latest tech devices. Sometimes, in fact, you could probably wait out whole product cycles. I mean, are you still using an iPod? A Keurig? In the big picture, there are a lot of things that benefit from technological advances, like farming. Farming actually feeds people, which is pretty handy. When you don’t feed people, they die. But agricultural technology won’t collapse, and no-one will die, if your phone doesn’t check in on Facebook, FourSquare, and Yelp every time you stop in for a Green Tea Frappuccino at Starbucks. Frankly, in the years I didn’t have a smartphone, I easily saved THOUSANDS of hours by not having a phone to dick around on, playing Candy Crush, Snapchatting, or Periscoping my private moments. Not that I do those things now, either.
Sales As Field Testing
When you install the latest OS on your computer, or try the latest drugs for what ails you, or decide a hoverboard is a useful mode of transit, you’re often paying the creator of the product to do the field testing they should have done before selling you the product in the first place. I’ve played this game on my terms for ages with great results. I’m still using Windows 7, because Windows 10 is mostly as superficial an upgrade as Win 7 was over XP. You may not have noticed, but Microsoft releases an OS between each major stable platform, probably to “break” the user’s relationship with the old OS and force the change the user dreads. Windows Me broke Win 98 right when they finally had it kind of fixed. Breaking XP was harder, it was a great OS. But Vista did the job very well. Breaking Windows 7 was going to be a bit more of a challenge; 8.1 didn’t quite do the job as well as Me and Vista had, so they made Windows 10 FREE. That still didn’t work very well. I’m personally still on Windows 7 almost entirely because it’s the only way I can continue using Creative Suite 6 for the rest of eternity, because, well, fark Adobe and their subscription model. I like ownership. I dodged another bullet recently by being a laggard and buying a Samsung J7 instead of S7. I saved 400 bucks, and have mostly the same phone. I guess I could have been REALLY fast on the adoption and gotten a Galaxy Note 7 recently , but on the bright side, my battery hasn’t blown up yet. And since I’m not rushing out to get an iPhone 7, I don’t have to charge my earbuds. Or look for them in the grass. Oh, and by the way, my 8 pound MacBook runs just fine with Leopard, and I find that I’m more productive by NOT toting a laptop around, which I’m loathe to do with the thing since it’s so heavy.
I could continue this kind of defensive rant for hours, justifying dozens of belongings in my home and office, but here are a couple of highlights, comparing everyday basics:
I finally have a smartphone, why the hell would I want a smart WATCH? My Movado Museum has served me with relentless reliability and style for over fifteen years. I was sitting with a friend who has a Motorola Moto the other day, and whenever it went off, he’d breathily blurt out somehing like “ohmigodshitsosorry”, and be visibly unsettled for a moment. Scratch that. It was more a strange amalgam of smug, prideful, and distracted. At some point, I glanced at my Movado. It was 1:20. I think. There’s no second hand or minute markers. That was the old joke: “What? This thing costs 500 bucks and there’s no SECOND HAND?” A few minutes later his watch let him know his phone was ringing. Which he already knew; it was sitting on the table next to us and had vibrated just moments before that. Although I was growing bored with watching my friend’s technological convulsions, I didn’t check my watch. I knew it was somewhere slightly after 1:20, and I knew that looking at my watch wouldn’t provide information that was any more precise than that. I also knew my phone hadn’t rung, even though I didn’t have a smart watch. How? I had shut off the ringer. I mean sheesh. A little class? We were having lunch.
Go ahead, I’m quite accustomed to the condescending smirks and dorksnorts. I didn’t buy a smartphone until this year, and I explained most of why here. What I didn’t mention in that piece were a few other important advantages of an old-school QWERTY slider over a state-of-the-art powerhouse like an iPhone 7 or Samsung S7. Although I mentioned the “illusion of productivity”, I didn’t mention another aspect of this, which is the ability to legitimately dodge work that could definitely wait until one is in an actual work space, when it can be done properly. No, don’t send that spreadsheet, I can’t open it. No, don’t send that new page layout, I won’t be able to even read it on this piece of shit phone I have. Do you even get how clever this is? My associates delight in making fun of my crap phone, so much so that they overlook the fact that I’m always available to talk, but only do actual work in the actual workplace. Other perks: 1) Yes, you can throw your Galaxy S7 at someone, and it will hurt as much as when I throw my Samsung Array, but I’ll still be able to make a call afterwards. 2) By buying the less-prestigious J7 well after release, rather than the Note 7 on day one, I didn’t die in a battery fire, and 3) I don’t have to charge my earbuds.
Okay, I surrender here. I often find my work life hums along just fine with my smartphone as a mobile tool, but SOMETIMES I wish I had a real work tool with me, and my beloved Mac has seen its day. I am totally breaking down and buying a Surface Pro. I’m just waiting for one more price drop, haha.
*All prices as of 11pm 9/8/16