Have you ever felt like you were perhaps too tethered to technology in one way or another? We already know that smartphone addiction can become a real problem, but when you combine that with the presence of computers, TVs, tablets, and all of the added accessories and interconnections that come in between, do you ever feel like you have too much technology on your plate?
Sometimes I do. There’s a name for that: gadget fatigue.
I (very) recently looked into this phenomenon when browsing Black Friday deals. I curated a list of things that I wanted to look out for, including the Amazon Echo and Google Home. While both devices are ultimately different, they share the same concept: they are a smart speaker for the home; a stationary virtual assistant. I already imagined the very spot where it would go. I dreamed of all the timers I would set for baking, of asking what the weather for tomorrow would be like (which would be handy for weeks like this one, where it’s 75-degrees one day and 47 the next), asking what the definition for “auto-appendectomy” was, ordering a pizza on those nights where I just didn't feel like cooking dinner, or asking to play music from my favorite 80’s hair bands. But these dreams were short-lived, because at some point while I was hunting for the best bargains, I realized that I don’t need this. I already have something that can do these things: my smartphone.
I’ve always been very interested in cell phones. They’ve always been my thing. I liked cell phones when they were just flip phones. I liked feature phones in the short period that I owned them before getting my first smartphone. Since then, it’s been all about the smartphones for me. Accessories? Not so much, at least beyond the basics like cases and screen protectors.
I only recently decided to spring for a smartwatch – a used Pebble Time, which I snagged for about $40, which I considered a pretty good deal. I’ve been wary about smartwatches because I never felt like I had a real need for them. Since getting one, I do realize that they are useful, but I only occasionally use mine now. I’ve never been a big watch person, so that might have something to do with it. I also don’t have a lifestyle that really prevents me from using my phone whenever I need to use it; otherwise, I might have found smartwatches to be a lot more useful to me than they are.
I’ve had issues with spending money on useless items in the past. I still have problems with it, but I’m consciously trying to cut down on it. I try to think about how often I will use something, and if it would really make my life that much better to have it. I recently purchased a Chromebook, and I couldn’t be happier with that decision. I use it every day, multiple times a day. But when I try to predict how often I would use Google Home or Amazon Echo, I can't see myself using it more than I use my smartphone for the same things. The same goes for virtual reality headsets of any type - I just don't have a real need or desire for it in my life right now. Additionally, when I think about adding yet another gadget alongside my desktop, Chromebook, smartphone, smartwatch, and TV, I feel overwhelmed. I’m already almost constantly attached to technology in some way, shape, or form, and I think that some people (like myself) just get to a point where you have to tell yourself, “Enough.”
I’m in no way saying that people who have as many gadgets as me – or more – shouldn’t indulge in new gadgets if they want or need to. Smart speakers - and many other gadgets, for that matter - serve many useful purposes for people of many different lifestyles. What I am saying is that I have hit my personal threshold for buying a gadget just to buy a gadget. If I buy a new gadget now, it has to serve a useful purpose, preferably one that something else I own can’t already do just as easily (like with the smart speaker vs. my smartphone). Otherwise, it’s just going to be one of those technologies that I prefer to admire from afar.
Readers, what are your thoughts on this phenomenon? Have you experienced gadget fatigue before, or is your love for technology boundless?