Living in the (technological) past

Oct 16, 2023

tech sustainability

Reading time: 5 minutes

I’ve been thinking about it for a while now, and a conversation yesterday with Rogue over on Mastodon brought it to my attention again: I’ve never been an early adopter of anything tech related. I live in the technological past. Let’s explore if this is a good or a bad thing.

When I look around my apartment, most of the electronic devices that I own are far from new, and were not even new when I bought them, because I got them used when they were already several years old.

My TV is a used 46’’ plasma that I got from my uncle around 2014 or so. My smartphone is a used Samsung Galaxy S10e from 2019 that I got off Ebay. My laptop is a 2014 Macbook Air running linux, again used from Ebay. My headphones are Bose Quietcomfort 35 and Bose Quietcomfort Earbuds, used, Ebay. My desktop PC was used off of Ebay years ago, but I replaced the mainboard, CPU and RAM with new components 4 years ago. Graphics card was used.

My washing machine must be at least 20 years old by now, I’ve had it for about 15 years, and even my kitchen appliances (in fact my entire kitchen) came used from a young woman a few blocks away who was moving in with her boyfriend and didn’t need it anymore.

So there are a few new things here and there, but most of the devices I have are years old and I didn’t buy them new in the first place. Why is that?

I think it started because back when I was in school and later on in university, I simply never had too much money. I come from a working class family, and we were far from poor, but also far from rich, so I learned to be frugal and save money early on. As a child and teenager it annoyed me of course because friends from wealthier households had a lot more toys and gadgets to play with, while my allowance was a lot smaller and I had to be mindful of what I bought and what I didn’t.

The same was true in my 20s in university, I could get by with the money I had, but there was never too much left over to constantly buy new computers, phones, consoles etc. But by that time I had realized that I don’t need to be at the leading edge of technology, as a lot of my fellow students were, and I was okay with it.

After I finished university and started working in the industry, for the first time in my life I was earning significantly more money than I was spending. But still I carried this mindset of frugality and asking myself “do I really need this” through my late 20s and 30s all the way into my early 40s, which is where I am now.

As a result, most new trends enter my life years after everyone else has already gotten on board. I was among the last in my group of friends to get a cellphone, the last to have a smartphone, I was watching movies on a CRT when everybody already had HD flatscreen TVs, and I still don’t have a smart watch, fitness tracker, 4k TV, current gen games console or whatever else is trending right now.

My smartphone and my desktop PC are the newest devices I own, and they’re both about 4 years old and I see no need to replace them anytime soon because they still work perfectly and do everything I need them to do.

Of course I keep reading tech news and watching Youtube channels like MKBHD, so I know what’s current and I catch myself thinking “oh, I want to have that!” at times, but then I also remember that I just don’t need the thing and it’s way too expensive anyway, and then I move on with my life and keep using my old crap until it breaks.

And there’s a certain peace of mind that goes along with this mindset that I don’t want to give up anymore. I save a lot of money, a lot of mental space and maybe a bit of the environment as well. And I like it that way.

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