Wednesday, 24 November 2010
I'm having a bad technology week. So bad that I want to take everything in my life that flashes, beeps or rings, and make a big pot of tech stew. Everything except my iPad (which was a gift) because I don't use it nearly enough for it to piss me off. Plus, I feel like it makes me look cool, and since I no longer smoke and have hit the mid-30s hump, I can really use the cred. But between my BlackBerry failing to wake me up for a meeting the other day, both my email addresses getting hacked and Gmail suspending me from sending out emails for 24 hours, I'm about ready to convert to Luddism.
I remember going on a date with this guy when I lived in London who was one of these real political-activist types; all Pro-Labour Party and America is Evil and Capitalists Have Raped the World. Mostly sentiments that I was (and continue to be) quick to point out I agree with. I'm a socialist in a rabid consumerist's clothing, I agree that America can be evil — have you read this?! — and maybe capitalists have raped the world, although I'm loathe to give up my fancy car. Eventually our conversation migrated to technology and the rising price of gadgets and how we, as white, privileged Westerners, dispense of our disposable income. (Not that I have a great deal of disposable income, mind you. I am a writer after all. But, you know, I spend.) In a nutshell, my politically enlightened date (who was so enlightened we went Dutch) felt that his spending $500 on a tech gadget was far more magnanimous than my dropping $500 on a pair of shoes.
And this is what I said to him (well, not exactly, but whatever):
There's no magnanimity in spending $500 on any one thing, unless it's food for the hungry, so let's not overstate things. The thing with technology is you're spending a large sum of money up front for a product that you already know will peter out on you sooner or later (or sooner THAN later — ha! See what I did there?). And the chances are pretty great that it's going to be at a really inconvenient time. We buy tech gadgets — computers, Smartphones, DVD players, digital recorders — and know they're not going to work for long. And "long" is getting shorter and shorter every day. Sure, refrigerators and washing machines and dishwashers need to be replaced, too. As do spark plugs, mufflers, engine cooling thingies and under-the-hood-stuffs. But after what? Like, ten years? I've only had my BlackBerry for 18 months and it's already going screwy. My last PowerBook, which cost a few THOUSAND dollars, lasted less than four years.
Meanwhile, my Gianfranco Ferre leather jacket is a decade old and still looks crazy cool. My circa 1994 Versace dress that I wore to a friend's wedding last summer got me one very handsome admirer, proving it still works, and the Marc Jacobs shoes I had to buy in LA five years ago when Delta lost my luggage — isn't technology meant to ensure that doesn't happen? — can still make an outfit.
I admit, when my PowerBook went tits-up I bought another one, although I went for the cheapest MacBook on the market at the time. And yeah, I love having a BlackBerry, which allows me to cut the cord between me and my computer and get on with my daily life. I'm hyper aware of how technology has changed and facilitated my job — I mean, when I was in graduate school my professors were advertising the freakin' phone book as our greatest resource and we were forced to get a daily subscription to the New York Times. Someone once mentioned in class that she was reading the paper online and we were Blown Away. So, yeah, I appreciate technology and, you know, evolution. But it also consistently fails me. And you too, so don't pretend.
My shoes don't, though. My Chanel flats may give me blisters sometimes and I can't wear my Stella McCartney heels for more than two hours at a time (I actually initially typed "hells" instead of "heels" — paging Dr. Freud!), but they never purported to be comfortable, just stylish and pretty. I guess what I'm saying is, I wish technology would be a little more honest and stop telling me that it's going to change my life. Unless by change my life it means make me a Luddite. In which case, touché, technology.
I never did go on a second date with that guy. In all honesty, there wasn't any chemistry and frankly, I can't be with a man who doesn't support my relationship with designer footwear. Men may come and go, but my shoes never let me down.