The world of technology is unarguably one of the most exciting fields in the contemporary era. The breathless pace of change, the innovation, the competition – it’s all so exciting!
But at the same time, the world of tech has bred some unfortunate side effects. Whether it’s the pace or the newness, something about technology gives rise to things that just aren’t acceptable or desired. I’m not talking about reduced attention span here, people. What I’m talking about is a kind of petulant, selfish, annoying behavior that we really need to stop.
Here are five things that can occasionally make the life of tech geek an awful, embarrassing experience.
“Don't Hurt the Wittle Billion Dollar Company…”
There was once a time that writers and consumers spent their time sticking up for the little guy, protecting John and Jane Doe against things like exploitation and unfairness. But not in the tech world! No, here in gadget-land those rules have been turned on their head. Criticize a billion dollar corporation and you, my friend, are either a fanboy/fangirl, a moron or a luddite.
And what are the universal defenses for shady business practices that hurt the consumer? “It makes good business sense for the company!”. Or, better yet, “if you don’t like it, don’t buy the product!” As if what’s important to most people is the business plan of a company.
You might be the most pro-business, free-market person around, but even so, that’s no reason to defend big business against the consumer. The game works when business looks out for itself and consumers look out for themselves. That, after all, is what market competition is. What it’s not is the little guy standing up for the company with a multi-billion dollar market cap.
More to the point, it’s just so weirdly… obedient. Whatever happened to the idea that you should fight the powers that be, not take their side?
Often, tech geeks will assert that new gadgets are infinitely and unquestionably better than the thing that came before them. In many ways they are correct. In 2010, we are privy to a slew of incredibly gadgetry. I mean, if I wanted to, I could be sitting in a park while writing this, while at the same time donating to charity while also following what my friends are up to. It’s incredible.
But, it really needs to be said: no, tech will not save everything. No, everything more technologically advanced is not automatically better than the less technological. You can’t quickly scan a web page the same way you can a newspaper. Books are easier to focus on. Phone calls convey emotion in a way that emails just can’t. This isn’t rocket science.
All technological change is ambivalent – some of it is good and some of it is bad. The hope is that, when everything is taken into account, overall things will be better. But there’s no reason to believe that every single last thing about technology is superior to the non-technological. It’s time to take off the tech blinders.
Though fan-ish behavior – a slavish devotion to a particular company or product – has been around for a long time (like in those Chevy vs. Ford arguments) nowhere is it more meaningless than in the world of tech.
Think about the endless discussion dedicated to Xbox 360 vs. PS3 arguments, or Mac vs. PC, or iPhone vs. Android. It’s not like these are massive differences. All video game consoles have good games worth playing and extra features some people like. All smartphones make calls and receive email and surf the web. Macs and PCs do the exact same things, especially as more and more things move to a platform-neutral web. So why the arguments?
There are many theories as to why: people identifying through brands, or getting attached to their branding message (“The Xbox 360 really reflects who I am, man”.) But regardless of the reasons, people really need to stop this. Think about how much more productive the internet could be if it weren’t for all the fan arguments. It’s an insane waste of time and mental energy and, while it used to be mainly teen gamers who did it, now it’s everyone. Stop!
How many times have you read a list detailing the “10 Hottest Female Chefs Working Today”? Never, right? Yet all the time in the tech world, we see that women are reduced to objects of sexual lust.
Worse, every single prominent female tech personality – Olivia Munn, Veronica Belmont, Amber MacArthur, Cali Lewis, Morgan Webb etc. – is described in terms of their appearance first and their tech-savvy or reporting skills second. It’s juvenile, sexist and it’s holding the tech world back.
The Unending Lust for the (Not Really) New
Finally, few things are as annoying about the tech world as the relentless drive for the new. Now, don’t mistake me: innovation is great. But that’s not what people seem to crave. Instead, we just want to newest thing that will inevitably be hailed.
Case in point is iPhone 4. I’m almost certain that I’ll get one, but when you watch this video, it’s incredible that the designers can say things like “this will change how we connect with people” with a straight face. Um, dudes? It’s a beautiful product, but it will not ‘change everything again’. It’s a minor update to an already great product. Can we keep the hyperbole in line, please?
But it certainly isn’t just Apple. Microsoft, Sony, Toshiba, everyone – all tech companies proclaim their newest invention to be the greatest thing ever and we rush out to buy the latest and greatest – even though it’s really the former and not the latter.