The opposite of a techie: The benefits and drawbacks of being a late adopter

I am a late adopter.  I am often very satisfied with the level of technological innovation in my life that I don’t seek out newer or more efficient ways to get work done, to communicate with people, or to fill my leisure time. Being a late adopter has its benefits.

First, I have extraordinarily low expectations for what technology can do for me. It’s a consequence of ignorance. I have no idea how behind the times I am until technology hits me in the face. When I started my current job last year, on my tour of the office, I reveled at the copy machine that could also scan documents. A copy machine that also scans???? Do you KNOW how much time I have lost in graduate school making sure I had money on my student copy account? I was so satisfied with being able to limit the paper in my life–apparently I have extraordinarily low expectations around my work life.

Another benefit is that technological upgrades are often a huge step forward. Take my current vehicle. I drive an older car–it belonged to my husband’s grandmother so it’s old but in great shape.  The car still has a tape deck in it, just to give you a sense of things.  I have always driven an old car so the greatest innovation I’ve ever known in a vehicle is the heated seat (and in my current car I don’t even have that). Once, I had a remote car-starter and that was WAY better than a GPS system. I still have maps in my car in case I get lost. Yes, people, I have maps. I figure in my next car, a robot will drive it for me. We’re close to that at this point, right? Cars can park themselves, I think, or at least that’s in the works.

One drawback of being a late adopter is that I’m likely getting in my own way when it comes to working efficiently.  It takes time to work out the kinks in shiny new gadgets, so I am content to wait for the version that actually functions instead of the gimmicky first edition. Long before Siri was in circulation, I thought it was a silly party trick.  I soured on voice activation after too many missed connections using voice-activated dialing in my father’s Buick Rendezvous. Driving in that car felt like living in a science fiction movie, and the car NEVER dialed the right number. Ever.

All of this wrangling with my late adoptive-ness stems from recent cellphone issues.  In the phone market, I am also a seriously late adopter. I finally upgraded to a smartphone in 2011 after the cost of the device seemed palatable and the iPhone innovations reached a fever pitch (I got an iPhone one version BEFORE Siri so I don’t know a thing about voice activation). And even with my iPhone, I have been lazy with the software updates. Until a few weeks ago when my phone stopped receiving text messages.  (My disdain for text messaging is really fodder for another post.)

When I called to get tech support, the technician looked over my records and said, “Whoa, you haven’t updated your software since 2011–why is that?” I have no good answer. I like the way the phone works. I like the way I’ve organized things. I didn’t feel like I needed to update anything. That technician could do nothing for me over the phone so I had to go in to an actual Verizon store. I avoid doing this at all costs (I think the last time I went into the store was to buy my current phone two years ago).

The salespeople in the store were perfectly helpful and friendly. Until they saw my software operating system and gave me the same reaction. “Whoa, that is several versions old.” Being a late adopter, I probably avoided updating the software because I thought I’d work less efficiently or the newer bells and whistles would get in my way.

Call me old-fashioned (and you surely will when I’m done ranting), but when did it get to be okay to never exercise any kind of restraint and run out and get the newest, best thing?  I know the software should make my stuff run more efficiently. I get that. And believe me, I use this phone for more than personal business so I need it to work properly. But I can’t take the unnecessary shaming for not having updated software or for not having the fanciest gadget.

I don’t know why I resist updates to technology. In my mind, I’m on some high horse about exercising restraint. But in reality, I often resist adopting new things because of pure laziness–I don’t want to take the time or interrupt my work flow. Or I’m fearful that something will go wrong or I won’t learn the new thing quickly. I don’t want to misrepresent my relationship with technology because I use PLENTY of apps and programs to make my life easier. Until they don’t (or until they need a software update).

So I did what they recommended. I updated the software to newest operating system. It’s the same interface I’ve seen on my friends’ devices from afar. And I have to say it works no better than my old system, except now I receive text messages (yippee!). I have been using the new software for about three weeks and I’m not impressed. The phone is slower (probably because I need a new one) and ironically, though I can access the newest and neatest apps, my phone has faltered completely in one area.

Making actual phone calls (of course).

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About rglw

Sociologist mom writes for work and for pleasure.
This entry was posted in culture, everyday life, lessons learned, personal, productivity, technology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The opposite of a techie: The benefits and drawbacks of being a late adopter

  1. Sometimes technology is simply a hindrance! I keep hearing and reading about people being too engrossed in their smartphones to pay attention to family, friends, more important things going on around them etc. Last year I had a smartphone for a few months but then it broke. Since then, I’ve been using a 10-year-old Nokia which works perfectly and gets great reception. I like some technology (the internet is great, when used well and not as a procrastination tool! :)) but I am not fussed about not having the latest gadgets.

  2. Janet says:

    We’re with you! I don’t have a smart phone yet! Have all the other gadgets, tho. Don’t need another distraction. We did break down and buy a new TV yesterday since we can use an antenna now to get broadcast signal. We stopped cable years ago as we didn’t see much worth watching for the price. Our son is one of the few people on his college campus without a smart phone. He can stay connected enough with his computer and he doesn’t want the distraction from studying!

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