Don’t Upgrade

I really like tech. Trust me a lot. So much, that I was using the word love in the same sentence with tech (I love tech), but lately I’m a little wiser so I realized I don’t want to use the same word to describe my feelings toward someone, as toward a material thing. Love people and use things – the paradigm by The Minimalists, that is true. The opposite never works.

I enjoy watching YouTube videos about new gadgets, durability tests, upcoming leaks, etc. But I realized I don’t want to spend so much money every year on the latest and greatest because it doesn’t significantly improve my life. It only makes it worse – by spending hard-earned money on a device that won’t bring much value to my life.

A Fast-Changing Industry

Technology is one of the fastest-changing industries right now. Every few months comes a faster processor, better display technology, longer-lasting battery, more advanced camera systems, enhanced security system, and so on. New advancements are announced on annual keynotes. The promise of a better life is daunting. Who wouldn’t like their life better and easier?

And so we buy and buy and buy. Even if our current device is perfectly fine, compared to the new model, it seems slow. And the camera is not that good during the night. I can use my phone underwater for only 30 minutes. Really? Tell me honestly, how many times have you used your phone underwater? Is paying $1000 for slightly better water protection, 1 hour longer battery, and a moderately improved camera worth it for you?

If you invest that amount in a course to improve your knowledge, you can earn 10x that amount, and the knowledge will stay with you forever. Or imagine investing that amount in the stock market… I’m sure the end result will be significantly better than having a new gadget.

The Promise of Lasting Happiness

The newest, latest, and greatest won’t bring you lasting happiness. No matter how much you think it would. This time will be different, one might say. But will it be? You’ll be happy for a week, or maybe a month, and then the new gadget will turn into another item that hasn’t changed your life. Just another in a row. Trying to buy happiness only makes us happy for a little while. Trust me, you won’t find it on a store shelf or on the Internet.

Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.

Rabbi Hyman Schachtel

Technical Vs Functional Obsolescence

I am sure many of us are aware that products have their own life cycle. But there is a difference between technical and functional obsolescence.

  • Technical Obsolescence – when a technical product or service is no longer needed or wanted even though it could still be in working order. Technological obsolescence generally occurs when a new product has been created to replace an older version.

For example, when a smartphone manufacturer launches a new version of a smartphone, your old smartphone becomes technically obsolete.

  • Functional Obsolencence – the reduction of an object’s usefulness or desirability because of an outdated design feature that cannot be easily changed.

For example, when your phone ceases to work properly because the latest software is no longer supported by the smartphone manufacturer.

Now that you know the difference, the question is: When do you change your device? When it reaches technical or when it reaches functional obsolescence? I know that a lot of us are tempted to buy a new one as soon as it reaches technical obsolescence, but ask yourself: What will happen if I don’t have the newest and greatest gadget? Will my life be worse in any way? Will I be hungry, or thirsty, or sick? 

 

Be honest with yourself and don’t upgrade. Nobody will care, and your life may be better if you do something different with that money. Go on vacation, reduce debt, donate it to a charity, or change someone’s life with it. The happiness derived from that can change your life in the true sense of a word. And it will last much longer than the happiness derived from a recent purchase.

If you reach functional obsolescence; your computer is slow, your phone is partly broken, or the battery is so bad that you need to carry an extra charger with you, then by all means buy the new gadget. But be honest with yourself. Can you change the battery, or buy a new SSD? Sometimes little improvement like that can breathe new life into a product. And you can skip an upgrade this year and wait for an even better product next one.

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Marketers spend millions of $ each year to create a sense of urgency to make us hyped for the new product. Armed with the knowledge of technical and functional obsolescence, we can refuse to play their game. We can turn down the noise and focus on more important things. Deep down, we already know that the latest version of a new phone, TV, computer or any other gadget won’t make us happy. Instead, we can focus on what we do have. Our phone serves us well, our TV entertains us when we’re bored, our computer helps us work and be more productive. There is a chance we already have everything we need. 

 

 

Remember: focus on the things you already have, not on what you don’t. Older things don’t mean less satisfaction. The American poet Allen Ginsberg once observed that if you pay twice as much attention to your rug, it’ll mean the same thing as owning two rugs.

Isn’t that amazing? This means if you cherish your belonging and take good care of them, the level of your satisfaction will be the same as if you buy the new product. Incredible!

Exception

Sometimes things break or wear out, and when that happens, you have a few options before you reach the wallet and buy a new one.

  • Try to repair if possible
  • Borrow
  • Buy used
  • Go without
  • Replace it (eventually, we will have to take this route, but even then, we can do it mindfully if we ask the right questions)

Final Words

Most of the time there is no real need to upgrade every year. High-quality products will be more expensive at first, but cheaper in the long run + they will probably look better and last longer. Don’t waste your time, money, and energy on upgrading your things every year. Instead, upgrade your life. Read more, exercise, eat healthier, invest in your knowledge, save for retirement… Appreciate what you have. Live simply. Enjoy the essentials.

 

Cheers!

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