Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Do You Need to Be on the Cutting Edge?

The day before the iPhone 5 was announced, I read a snarky tweet (which I can’t find the link to) about some poor sucker signing a contract for an iPhone 4. The feeling behind that tweet was that the person was a fool for buying last year’s model when the new, spiffy, shiny iPhone was on the cusp of being released.

The person who tweeted that just doesn’t get it.

Sure, the latest iPhone might be able to create world peace, cure diseases, and make Toronto, Canada’s mayor actually look competent. But what’s wrong with the iPhone 4? I bet it can make calls, let you check your favourite web sites, take photos, use apps, and more. And I bet it does all of those things very well —I’m not an Apple user so I can’t give you a first-hand impression.

Guess what? That’s probably more than enough for the person who bought that iPhone 4. And for people like him or her.

Most people don’t need to be on the cutting edge. They don’t need the latest and so-called greatest of anything. Last year’s model, or even something older, often does what they need to do and does it quite nicely. Take my wife, for instance. She doesn’t have a smartphone and really doesn’t want one. Instead, she has a basic Samsung mobile phone that I bought her for $50. It’s not even a feature phone. It makes calls, sends and receives text messages, and has a few basic applications on it. No email, no social media, no web browsing. It works for my wife. It’s all she needs.

Far too many people who feel the need to buy the latest model of anything fall into a trap that I call the power user fallacy. They believe that everyone uses software, hardware, a tool, or anything in the same way that they do. They can’t understand why many people don’t.

Things just don’t work that way. Not everyone is the same. We all have different needs, different goals, different ways of doing things, and different uses for things.

Thanks to those under the sway of the power user fallacy and thanks to all the hype and marketing that’s generated, more and more people are being sucked into stepping on to the cutting edge. Even when they don’t need to be there.

My advice: don’t get caught up in all of that. Think about your needs, rather than what others tell you that you need. Stick with something that works for you until it doesn’t. But you, and only you, should decide when and why it doesn’t.

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