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On Gear Whoring

Les Jones pointed to a great rant from a former Gizmodo editor about how stupid people get over gadget lust.

Stop buying this crap. Just stop it. You don’t need it. Wait a year until the reviews come out and the other suckers too addicted to having the very latest and greatest buy it, put up a review, and have moved on to something else. Stop buying broken products and then shrugging your shoulders when it doesn’t do what it is supposed to. Stop buying products that serve any other master than you. Use older stuff that works. Make it yourself. Only buy new stuff from companies that have proven themselves good servants of their customers in the past. Complaining online about this stuff helps, but really, just stop buying it.

You want to know the punchline? The average Joe that makes up the market is smarter than you saps. The market-at-large waits until a clear leader emerges, then takes a modest plunge. You may think you’re making up the “bleeding edge” of “gadget pimpatude” but you’re really just a loose confederation of marks the consumer electronics industry uses as free market research and easy money. “Give me the latest version,” you coo, hiking up your skirt another inch over your exposed wallet. “Point Oh One upgrades make me so hot.”

Reading the whole thing would not be a waste of your time, especially if you can look on your shelf and see more than a couple of items that you just HAD to have when you discovered them, but now no longer use.

I used to have Gizmodo and several other tech sites in my RSS reader. I read them every day (often 50+ posts per day) under the guise of “staying current” with technology. What I was really doing was filling my head with gadget lust for things that I didn’t need. I would see some (actually pretty nifty) gadget that’s just come out, and get to thinking about it. The more I thought about it, the less the thoughts resembled “hey, cool!” and the more they started to sound like “I can probably afford to buy this next month.”

I browsed to Slickdeals.net every morning, and checked the “Hot Deals” forums. Often I would find truly stupendous deals on something, but even if I got it for 20% of retail and got some use out of it, it was still an item that I could have gone without.

In both cases I was willfully creating wants and desires in my mind that, far from helping me be “productive and connected”, caused me to be “broke and never satisfied”. I was exactly where the sales people wanted me.

I removed the gadget sites from my reader and the “deals” bookmarks from my web browser. I still browse for gadgets, but it’s usually prefaced by some need for functionality. The difference between what I’m doing now and what I’m doing before is that the origin of the “need” is from my daily living (“Boy, sure do wish I could x. I wonder if there is a product that will let me do that. Better yet, maybe there’s software or a cheap upgade that will enable what I’ve already got to fill the need.”) instead of from essentially a marketing syndication (Wow! New Shiny Thing 3.2 does y! I could use that!).

Les said:

I remember reading one of those futurist authors years ago predicing the accelerating surge of electronics. One of his conclusions was that technology would bring a lot of expensive temptations.

Absolutely spot-on. You’d be surprised how much brainpower you free up when you cease to be a gear whore. Not to mention the positive effects on your budget.

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