The illusion of technology

Google is advertising its new Pixel 4a as the “cash saving phone” which seems totally ironic to me because buying it would leave me £350 out of pocket. Google will also recuperate a lot of value in the sale of my data.

We’re convinced to buy new devices by the prospect of the changes they’ll bring for us in our lives: productivity, social connection, creativity, but invariably they don’t do anything like that for us at all. Modern mobile phones aren’t designed for doing or creating anything they couldn’t for us ten years ago (sending messages and sending & receiving phone calls.) Your next phone won’t make friends for you like the ones in the adverts; it won’t help you get fitter or be twice as productive; it certainly won’t make you more relaxed. Those are all problems a device can’t solve for you.

No, these devices are designed for mass consumption. Consumption of social media, video, games and web content. Every aspect of the iOS or Android interface is geared towards giving you immediate unfettered access to content so you can consume energy, bandwidth, data, time and… advertising!

Perhaps underneath our lust for new technology we all know this? And we simply buy new devices to stave off the reality that the problems in our lives can’t be solved without effort.

I think there are much better things to spend the £350 (or even the £1k Apple seems to think is appropriate to charge for a device that costs £20 to make) on. If you want to be more productive, take the advice of notoriously productive people. If you want more friends join a club, or perhaps even send a message to your current ones (especially during this pandemic while they’re probably alone.) If you want to be more creative, take painting lessons. You already know this; you just didn’t want to believe it.