Today our world is full of whirling, whirring things that do everything before you begin to blink. Alarm clocks and their rustic gongs have been replaced by a trendy IPhone jingle or Radio One ringtone. Written letters have been reduced to a sentimental role due to the totalitarian march of technology and now, much to my chagrin, books are being bullied off of tubes and classrooms by the “Kindle”. The arrival of the Kindle has awakened in me an unreasonable hatred in all things new and, quite frankly, better for the first time in my life.
Despite my notoriously thin pockets I have always supported, if not financially then vocally, each generation of the electrical age. If I could not have a PSP I still read up on its capabilities. Whenever I was too stingy to splash on a Sennheiser upgrade I refused (and still do) to return to the actively insulting din of my old broken headphones. I was a new age gadget man alongside the rest of my peers because we are the internet generation, always connected and always up to speed on the latest.
My sourness could easily be traced to my lack of leg mumps, but no, that is not entirely the case. I could afford a kindle (my parents can afford a kindle for me*) but my ambivalence stems from something else. As I admittedly became more and more distant from the charge of technological updates (for which Itunes is the vacuous model of) my distance has provided a great panoramic sweep of the landscape. The updates, when put in sequential order alongside one another, are obviously ridiculous. In what can only be described as a consumerist con people rob, steal and kill to go from Iphone 4 to 4s. Well either that or they choose to go broke.
This is not to say that the upgrades do not actually improve on prior models, because they do, check the specs (not the glasses). It is eye scrapingly clear that people are buying for the sake of buying. The worthwhile upgrade has taken a back seat in the race to be the first in the office or school with the latest (for all of five mins). In short people are buying for buying’s sake. Are we that whittled down mentally that we cannot think of something else to spend our monies on? Yes, yes we are.
Instead of expanding our worlds technology has succeeded in narrowing much of the public consciousness into a hive brain of inactivity. Twitter trends are an illustration of this embarrassment, masses of people joining forces to discuss much of nothing. Another example is the rapid distillation of the mobile phone market into a big three (or two) kind of situation, HTC and Apple wrestling against each other with all the force of a few size zero WWE divas. This monopoly resembles much of the techy climate. Microsoft and Apple have a vice grip over the computer industry, whilst the games industry squeezed out Sega and even threatened to finish the mighty Nintendo.
There are economic reasons for this; smaller companies of course unable to compete with the technological might of the bigger companies due to high developmental costs. The only way around these costs is to provide a niche (as the wii did). Nevertheless, the reality remains that the myopia induced on our populace by the technological revolution also exists within the industry itself.
I may disdain the Kindle for sentimental reasons now. However, the question of actual need remains. Do we, or did we ever need to have a library of books in our palms? This is not necessarily an exclusive dig at technology however. The electronics industry is just one industry that happens to resemble a multitude of others in our society, providing us with things and short cuts that we do not need. Those reading in between the lines might baulk at my assessment of technology’s effect on our society, which is that we are slowly becoming a troupe of sluggish, drooling Room 101 victims, re-conditioned into living currency. A little bit hyperbolic I know, but take a minute to try and calculate the number of hours lost (and it is lost) to the whirlpool that is the internets…I’ll wait.