Thursday, December 16, 2010

What's love got to do with it?

A writer for the New York Times argued recently that we “fall in love” with the software in electronic devices, seeing it as an extension of our brains, making the devices objects of our affection.

“[I]t should come as little surprise that people feel lost or actually grieve when they lose a personal electronic device. ‘You are leaving your brain behind….’”


I’m more tech oriented than many.  I bought one of the first “portable” computers, an Osborne (it was the size of a small suitcase, 4” screen, two 5 ¼” floppy drives with a total of 64k ram).  But the computer went into the closet when I started as a baby lawyer because my secretary typed 100 wpm.

I got my first Email account when clients started asking for my Email address.  Same for the first cell phone, I bought it when enough people asked for my number.

I didn’t make the decision on getting Internet access, we moved our office and the new place was wired.  Within a year or so there was enough online that I got a laptop to use at home and on the road.

The smart phones I’ve bought were the result of seeing that their features would be useful.

Did I mourn when a laptop got stolen or I switched computers?  I did bitch about having to transfer stuff, getting it from one “brain” to the next.

I’ll admit to liking a lot of the changes in electronics.  My first laptop was pretty cool when viewed next to my secretary’s clunky beige IBM 386 something or other.  The little Motorola Razr was kind of elegant in its day.  My Mac Mini and MacBook are much better looking and operate much better than their Dell predecessors.  I love multi-touch phone screens; but, I can’t see myself buying an iPad, as elegant as it is, anytime soon because it won’t do all the things my MacBook does.

But love?  It’s all stuff that does something I need done.  Once the initial fascination with the new features wears off, it’s a tool like a car or a TV or, pick your own example.  Better, stronger, faster as the narrator on the Six Million Dollar Man intoned; but, to be replaced somewhere down the line with the next better, stronger, faster thing.

Love?  I love the old, old drafting board that I bought for $25.00 thirty years ago.  It is a piece of art.  I love my Ping putter.  It fits my eye – it’s my eye’s fault not all the putts go in the cup.  I love the Grapes of Wrath and like paper books more than eReaders.  As much as I try, I can’t really concentrate on words on a screen as well as I can on words on a piece of paper.

The Times writer asks “[c]an you love an electronic device made of glass silicon and plastic?”  Nope, just what it can do and the next one will do better.


Anonymous said...

I think it's the same kind of love that craftsmen have always felt for their tools.

I'm sure carpenters have a favorite saw, electricians have a favorite screwdriver, and writers have a favorite keyboard or typewriter- but it's not the kind of love that girlfriends need to be jealous of.

Sonja's Mom said...

Electronic devices - no. Cars - yes. Whenever I have to trade in an old car for a new one I mourn for the old one. I feel like I have abandoned an old and faithful friend. I worry how the car feels being left behind in a lot with other cars that have been rejected by their owners also. I know cars have no feelings and I am being silly and irrational, but I can't help it.

fermicat said...

I'm kind of obsessed with my new smartphone, particularly with finding and loading new apps. In my defense, I've only had it a week and it is my first smart phone. The novelty hasn't worn off yet. Not sure if I "love" the thing, but there are fond feelings and endorphins involved, I am convinced.

The Curmudgeon said...

I've had a love/hate relationship with lots of gizmos over the years. I've written about it often enough. It almost always ends in tears....