Our unhealthy addiction to technology’s baby-steps


Jake Hamilton

Photo Illustration

Jake Hamilton, Opinion Editor

“The only thing that’s changed is everything,” claims Apple about their new iPhone 6s. Of course, avid internet-researcher and professional Wikipedia-navigator as I am, I had to look further into this supposed “everything.”

There is a noticeable change in the shape of this iPhone. It has gained a whopping 1 mm of width, .3 mm of depth, and 14 entire grams of mass. Not to mention their wonderful new and mysterious features, like the Taptic Engine and the long-awaited A9 chip with embedded M9 motion coprocessor. Of course, if you don’t have a microscope or a technology degree, you probably can only notice the slightly better camera.

Still, I don’t even need to research to know that millions of people dropped everything (maybe even their ancient, regular iPhone 6) to buy into this new technological breakthrough. And I’m sure that many more will soon follow to buy the even newer iPhone SE, which (I can’t help noticing) looks very similar to the iPhone 5 I’ve had for two years.

I’m not blaming Apple for their claim that everything has changed. What interests me is this similar phenomenon that we see with countless other forms of new “groundbreaking” technology. Even without the claim that “the only thing that’s changed is everything,” people often seem to see it that way, whether its a new speaker, tablet, ultra-high-definition TV, or any other form of technology with new invisible upgrades and fancy new adjectives.

My more tech-savvy friends insist that it’s the unseen intricacies of technology that increase exponentially. They’re probably right, for the most part at least. But I think maybe it’s time to stop praising each baby-step of technology. Sure, that made sense as technology learned to walk–back when it was an infant. But technology has grown into a healthy teenager and I think it could use some space.

I don’t doubt the importance of technology, and its quantum leap of progress probably marks this generation more than anything. Still, it seems to me that we don’t need to coddle it any longer. We may find that people’s expectations of technology grow faster than the technology itself. A little time apart could be the best thing for all of us.

Technological progress is important and inevitable, but not as integral to life as some may think. As our technology has evolved immensely, the average happiness level has remained mostly consistent over the past fifty years (Myers, David G., and David G. Myers. “Experienced Emotion.” Psychology in Modules). There’s no update that provides any basic life fulfillment. Or as philosopher Alan Watts so delicately put it: “If happiness always depends on the future, we are chasing a will-o-the-wisp that ever eludes our grasp, until the future, and ourselves, vanish in the abyss of death.”

And maybe I’m a hypocrite because I don’t know what I’d do without streaming Netflix. And I don’t plan on throwing my iPhone 5 out the window or anything. It’s just not worth diving into every update and buying into every new product. You’d notice if everything changed.

And with technology’s progress, I’m sure everything will change soon enough.