Monday, January 14, 2013

Technological Tsunami

Some things really are out of our control. It really shouldn't be difficult to accept that nostrum - we can't hold back a hurricane, sharks will continue to nip at random surfers and people will still plant lawns instead of gardens. But sometimes things happen we can control but the universe presents them in such a way that we fold to the inevitable march of progress.

Here is my story.

I am neither a Luddite nor am I opposed to technological progress. I do however choose to not participate in each and every 'new' tech innovation. I judge such advances based on a simply credo - does it help me in any substantive manner. I don't adopt based on availability, I am a function over form guy.

In that late 90s I resisted the absolute imperative of the cell phone. Eventually I got a standard 'call only' model. My second phone had text capability because phones simply did not come without it and I found some circumstances did arise where texting was useful even advantageous. But I was a limited user, I always bought the cheapest plan with the fewest minutes and piled up hundreds of carryover minutes.

Recently I found it necessary to change my cell phone carrier, I specifically needed a mobile Wi-Fi unit that would work in a remote northern California area and Verizon seemed to be the only reliable service in the vicinity. I went to the local Verizon store to obtain my new mobile unit and asked: "Is there a better deal if I also switch my cell phone service?" The answer of course was Yes! So the paperwork began then came the selection of the new phone (and the point of today's story).

I had been warned by a friend but needed to verify for myself the truth of my next techno leap into the future.  So to the helpful young man I said: "I only use my phone for calls and perhaps half a dozen text messages a month. How much is your bottom of the line phone unit?"

"Seventy-nine dollars," he replied.

We were standing directly in front of a wall full of iPhone 5's, a huge display with lights and lasers, bell and whistles, circles and arrows with a paragraph on the back . . . but I had to ask because M had warned me of what came next.

"I see the iPhone 5 is under $200 but I hear you have a deal on the iPhone 4."

"Yes sir we do, they're free."

There was a long silent pause as I was inexorably drawn into the next ring of technological hades. I could pay $79 for a basic phone or they would give me a smart phone for free. Apps would be preloaded. GPSesses would follow me throughout the land. Whole Foods could text message me when ripe guavas were delivered. I could review data plans more complicated than Medicare supplement policies.

So it came to pass on a crisp Tuesday in December, yet another resistance to the rise of the machines fell by the wayside and I recalled the infamous epigram of all pushers down through the ages - 'the first one is always free.'

1 comment:

Tatyana said...

TANSTAFL - if you get my drift...
One ( or two?) year agreement and so on - and your feeling of "free lunch" is gone. Did I guessed right the final outcome of this technological Tsunami?
Love the picture though.