How to Be Satisfied with What You Have

There’s a lot of excitement over the release of the new iPhone 4S. I’m reading news stories about people lining up outside of stores so they can get their hands on the latest version of the popular phone.

I have trouble relating to the “must have it now” mentality. I’ve observed early adopters of the iPod quickly abandon their first generation mp3 player for the smaller iPod mini, only to do it again the next year for the even smaller iPod nano. Later, when the iPhone effectively combined Apple’s mp3 player with a cell phone, every previously released music device was abandoned, and the “gotta have it” frenzy shifted towards the iPhones.

Of course, this behavior isn’t unique to Apple products. Many people choose to upgrade their cell phone the instant they’re eligible, so that they can enjoy the thrill of getting something new. My girlfriend Cassie has been through three different phones in the four years that I’ve lived with her, and she’s already looking forward to becoming eligible again for her next upgrade.

I’m not suggesting that anything is wrong with liking gadgets, or wanting new things. After all, I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy the privilege of affording a brand new car, brand new laptop, brand new furniture, etc. I’m only sharing my fascination with those who seem to always “need” new things, and I’m curious about what drives people to crave that “new gadget feeling.”

To offer some perspective, I’ve only ever owned two cell phones. The first one I got in 2001. I was 21 at the time, and got it at the request of my employer. I was a traveling consultant for his computer firm, and having a phone made it easier for my boss to keep in touch with me when I was on the road.

I got my second phone in 2005. My father wanted a cell phone, and could save the cost of a phone if I let him have mine. I renewed my contract, obtained a free phone, and gave my dad my old one.

The free phone that I got in 2005 is still the one that I’m using today. It’s in my pocket as I’m writing this.

Sure, it’s six years old — but it works, and it’s served me well for all these years. Of course, people sometimes make fun of me for it. It’s not uncommon for people I’m meeting for the first time to actually take a picture of my old phone using their smart phone, so they can upload it to Facebook for a laugh. It’s like they’re saying “Seriously? What’s wrong with this guy?”

My old phone

They tell me to get with the times, and ask why I won’t upgrade to a newer phone. Although there are several reasons, the main one is that it still works. I guess I subscribe to the old adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

Still, I suspect that there’s more to it. There’s a reason why other people are always buying the next best thing. Some people are compulsive shoppers, some are self-proclaimed technophiles, and some just want to be accepted as part of the crowd who’s “with it.”

And I’m not going to lie. I’m not anti-iPhone. In fact I’m a bit curious about it. At one point I got to use one for my job and I did like it. It had some cool games, and if it lacked any features you could easily find and download something extra ones using Apps.

All this considered, I’m still comfortable with not being part of the “gotta have it” mentality. Maybe I’ll get one when my phone finally dies. If not, that’s okay too. I’m satisfied with what I have.

Hole in the body - Comic by Dresden Codak

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One Response to “How to Be Satisfied with What You Have”

#1 KenWert@MeanttobeHappy on 16, Oct, 2011 at 2:25 am

You mean there’s another one out there? I was beginning to think I was the last remaining flip-phone owners on the planet!

I so agree with you, Shaun! My phone works, does what I need it to do, is less bulky (weighs less and fits into smaller compartments) than the newer i-phone types that do everything but wash the dishes, and is free.

But, as you say, there is a larger issue here. I have no need to go out and buy the newest gadget. I don’t bemoan those who do. To each his own. If you have the money, go for it! But I’m much too frugal (spelled cheap!) for that!

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