The Irony of Surrounding Ourselves with Electronics

If it’s new, it’ll take time . . . no matter what it is from learning a new subject to “plug-and-play” gadgets – everything new has a learning curve – from a few minutes to many, many hours. 

The problem:  we just never know how long it will take . . .

The great sales pitch of the 21st Century is “it’s easy” – it’s not – it never is.  For instance, there was a time when we bought a television set, the choices were simple – this one or that one – and all we needed was an outside aerial, rabbit ears on the inside of the home and electrical outlets.  There were only a few channels which ran a few hours every day and evening.

Now, when we buy a television, there is choice – a lot of choice– plasma, HD, 3-D from a host of companies – Panasonic, Sony, Toshiba, etc.  However, it’s a little more complicated now – first, we need cable so we have to choose a cable company AND choose a plan.  Then . . . the fun begins – setting the right of the 18 or more formats available, buying the right disc player – Blu Ray or regular; deciphering the multiple cables – HDMI, DVI, coax, etc.; buying a cable or satellite box – the list is endless – some interesting information here:

Once we bring home the television, we either need to wade through pages and pages of manual or hire someone to plug in our television so all the gadgets work together, the remote control is programmed, the “black box” is functioning properly and, if we have purchased other items, well, they have to be plugged in and programmed too.  We’ve all become programmers!  If you’ve never done it before, it can take you hours and hours and hours!

Then . . . learning how to use it all for maximum enjoyment!  Do we even know what the “maximum enjoyment settings” are?   

And so it goes with every single gadget we buy now – cell phones, iPads, and other very complicated and highly functioning electronic equipment we can buy today.

Think of another irony of all these electronic gadgets – we spend all that time deciphering among all the choices and learning our newest “toy”, yet, we only really ever use a very small part of all the power available to us! The mobile phone is still used mainly for “talking on the phone”.  Texting – sure – but, mostly, people talk on the phone.  Think of all the applications on the new phones – there are 10,000 for iphone alone!  10,000 – how long do you think it would take just to review all those apps?  And, despite it all, any new piece of equipment is likely missing something you want or need.

Next time, you’re looking at a new gadget, think hard how much time you really have available to learn it. 

Will it save or cost you time?  Do you really need it or will the one you already have be sufficient for a long time to come?  Save your money – save your time – by not “jumping on the latest and greatest bandwagon” which comes along – you know it’s missing something! 

If you do make the plunge, then please make a list of every single thing you want it to do.  Before purchasing, go through the list with the seller, write down instructions on how to do what you want it to do, get the website address for further instructions (nowadays, sites should really contain video instructions) and make sure there is after sales support.

The irony of surrounding ourselves with electronics is that they eat up our time like no other “helpful tool” ever in our history.  As they get more and more complicated, we need to learn more and more or pay to have our equipment set up for us the way we want it.  Either way, it costs dearly – we really need to slow down a bit and decide whether we need something new and, if we do, do we have the time to learn to use it properly.  And . . . is it recyclable – or just another thing for the landfills?

Lorraine Arams

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