Consumers fall victim to ‘newest’ craze

A Luddite is one who is opposed to technological progress. Your humble narrator is by no means a Luddite, but she can relate to a Luddite’s sentiments. With all the new technology on the market

A Luddite is one who is opposed to technological progress. Your humble narrator is by no means a Luddite, but she can relate to a Luddite’s sentiments.

With all the new technology on the market today, sometimes I think it would be easier to live in a technology-free world.

Technology itself is a good thing. It helps people communicate faster, recover from diseases and make life easier. However, some companies have forgotten that technology is about enhancing the quality of life, not the quantity of things one can accumulate.

Take for example, the iPod. This mp3 player designed by Apple seems to be a staple on college campuses and other locales. With capabilities such as photo storage and video playback, young adults everywhere can’t resist the sleek look and pretty colors of the iPod. The upwards of $200 price tag matters little when those precious white earbuds are in your ears.

However, Apple is so intent on having its customers be up on the latest technology that they keep developing new versions of the iPod and recreating some of the older versions. Anyone who owns an original iPod Nano now has a $200 out-of-date piece of equipment in their pocket, even though it was only released a year ago.

While the new Nano is more colorful and even smaller, the technology differs little from those of the previous models. Yet customers will shell out another $200 just to have the newest version.

If the ever-changing face of the iPod doesn’t have you strapped for cash, Blu-ray discs will. Nearly a decade ago, DVD players were brand new and VHS tapes became a thing of the past.

Now, with the impending release of Blu-ray players and discs, DVDs will slowly be forgotten, leaving people with cabinets full of recently-released DVDs that can’t be played on Blu-ray players. The Blu-ray discs won’t make DVDs obsolete, but their release will cause technology-savvy consumers to abandon their DVD players, thus making them less popular and less available in stores.

While technology can enhance the quality of life by making things faster and easier, most of the new technologies on the market these days are just simple upgrades of pre-existing products designed to make more money for large corporations.

The iPod is, without a doubt, far better than discmans and walkmans, but the constant upgrades and new products make it financially impossible to stay on top of the latest technology. And while this columnist misses watching old episodes of “Blossom” on VHS, she likes being able to sit through a movie without having to adjust the tracking on the DVD player.

These unnecessary technological advancements aren’t just cause for financial concern. Although these upgrades have electronic-addicted consumers spending every last penny on something similar to what they already own, the bigger problem here is that of competition.

People often measure their success not by what they earn, but by what they have. In this case, having the latest technology means having it all. Bullying in schools is no longer based on who has the coolest clothes or the latest hairstyle, but who has what video game and how many songs their mp3 player can hold.

While bullying has always been an issue, financial constrictions can make it harder for kids to avoid after-school fights. So much emphasis has been placed on technology, yet not everyone can avoid the newest products, making those with smaller budgets targets.

While the Luddites may have an unorthodox approach to life, they’re on the right track. Technology is great, and despite efforts to avoid being suckered into making unnecessary purchases, in the past few years, this columnist has bought two iPods and a docking station and FM transmitter for both of them, as well as a DVD player and many DVDs. The bottom line is that people rarely buy based on need, and companies know this.

Consumers may grumble when they see their six-month-old electronic device in stores with a newer design, better features and a higher price tag, but they will ultimately buy it for fear of missing out on the latest technology.

Shannon McDonald can be reached at

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