How do we resist the magnetic pull toward the newest versions of the gadgets we love? It’s not only about improved functionality and the appeal of sexy commercials that drives us to upgrade.
The truth is that many of us can’t…and won’t resist the desire to upgrade. So what’s fueling the need to jump ahead to the latest, greatest technology?
Let’s just say that there’s more to upgrading than meets the fingertips!
Behind the scenes, you have your reasons for upgrading that are less obvious. These reasons hold a ton of information about what makes you tick, such as whether or not you locate happiness outside of your current reality. (For more on upgrading in a healthier way, click here.)
Here are 10 secret forces pushing us to upgrade to a new device (beyond the obvious):
Which ones can you relate to? (Feel free to share in the Comments section below.)
1. You become the upgrade…an upgraded device = an upgraded life
Since your devices play such an integral role in almost everything you do, to upgrade gives you the grand illusion that you’re upgrading your entire existence. You merge with the awesome power of the brand. The upgrade allows you to join the party. You equate enhanced features with the promise of a more productive and entertaining life. For example, you believe that life will change because you won’t have to wait four seconds for a page to load. Or you imagine that a better screen will carry your mind even further from the daily grind and entertain you like your eyes have never been tickled before. (Uhhh, there’s some….err a lot of truth to that…)
2. You tend to associate the thought or image of upgrading with the promise of increased happiness.
This mentality is common among compulsive shoppers. I believe it all comes down to how much we tell ourselves that we have everything we need. If you rarely tell yourself that you are rich because you have everything you need, then it’s time to start feeding this to yourself. People who celebrate what they already have in terms of relationships, health, material possessions, etc. seem less likely to make unnecessary upgrades. If you can separate upgrading from any effect on your level of happiness, then you can make a more solid decision about the timing and specifications of your personal tech upgrade.
3. Your daydreams of upgrading compel you to make the purchase.
If you are the daydreaming type like I am, then it’s important to pay attention to how daydreams of the upgraded technology prior to the purchase affect time management and your expectations about how incredible it will be to use the technology. Daydreams can be functional, but for many of us to get carried away with fantasies of life with the new device.
4. Upgrading is a welcomed distraction from all that isn’t right in your personal life.
Whether it’s the hunt for the new gadget or your first days with enhanced technology, I can’t think of a more powerful way that doesn’t involve alcohol or substance abuse to distract yourself from your emotional pain or temporarily fill a void in your life. People who suffer from depression may be more prone to look for opportunities to lose themselves in the hunt for the next device. Similar to a broader shopping addiction, the fleeting excitement around upgrading to a new computer or tablet offers a welcomed escape from suffering.
5. You make an unspoken commitment to live a life of perpetual upgrading.
This is really an extension of Reason #4. Some people live in a world of perpetual upgrading to chronically avoid painful aspects of life in desperate need of attention. Once the next generation phone is purchased, they start to become annoyed by the slowness of their computer, and as a result, they begin the hunt for another upgrade. Living as a perpetual upgrader is dangerous to the extent that life can feel heavy and messy if problems are constantly avoided. Important changes are only made when problems explode. One manifestation of a perpetual upgrader is the tech user who treats his devices in a reckless manner so that when the device fails, he has reason to renew the hunt for another device.
6. (Ok, a bit of the obvious but wonderful truth is needed here)…You look forward to the real life benefits of upgraded technology.
Let’s face it….new technology can lead to vast improvements in how you conduct your life. It’s just a question of whether you take advantage of the new features. You are aware of the new features and want to integrate them into daily life. For example, if you take the health app on the iPhone 6 seriously, there are benefits to tracking health and fitness statistics (e.g., calorie count, blood glucose level, and steps taken in a day.) Aside from dealing with a broken device, this reason is the most grounded way to justify the upgrade. It’s just a matter of whether you follow through after the upgrade with your plan to let newer features take your digital lifestyle to the next level.
7. It looks cool to stay ahead of the tech user curve and be the first to upgrade in your circle.
When it first becomes available to the public, walking the streets with upgraded personal technology gives the illusion of a bump up in status. No one who upgrades for this reason will admit it, but this is a legit justification for trading in your phone for a newer model. People take pride in being the first on Facebook to know, do or have something. If you pride yourself as a tech trendsetter, then you may upgrade for this reason alone. Some people invest heavily in making sure that others covet their new toy.
8. Repetitive exposure to smart, well-placed advertising convinces you to upgrade.
We can’t deny the power of marketing to influence our shopping behavior. It’s effective and they know it. Most of the effects are beyond our conscious awareness, but sometimes we are captivated by the perfect ad for the perfect product. For me it’s not the perfume ads of oiled-up couples rolling in the sand or the guy salivating over cheap fast food. It’s the Apple products. I’m usually smitten by the enormous advertisement above the Lincoln tunnel for the new iphone or ipad when I wait in traffic for the toll booth. Are you aware of the types of advertising that influence you the most?
9. You buy into the upgrading frenzy that our culture worships.
We live in a world of options, updates and upgrades. The cycle of availability of upgrades seems to be speeding up. Our culture determines when products become obsolete. It can feel like we are being forced to make changes. Many products are designed not to last forever. Companies know that our devices break and that we lose adaptors. Technology is designed in a way that obsolete products are no longer serviced as they once were. Parts are not available after a certain point.
We live in a culture of options (or at least the illusion of options.) We upgrade because we can! When we shop for a new computer, we get to choose among the many models and once we settle on a specific brand, we then specify the memory, screen size, etc. The process of choosing specs strangely enhances our investment in the upgrading process.
The combination of having so many upgrading options to choose from, plus the forced choice to upgrade due to a change in operating system, the device breaking, or some other reason seems to push people onto an endless upgrading train ride.
10. You want to avoid at all costs the situation in which a much more appealing, upgraded version of your device is released right after you bought what was once the latest model.
Some people welcome this situation because they can purchase the previous model at a decent discount. The upgrade chasers see this as a nightmare they want to wake themselves up from as soon as possible. Of course, the way we view the newness of our devices is all relative. There will always be something better. You just have to enjoy the window of time in which your device feels upgraded until it loses its title due to the effects of time, habituation and wear and tear.
Of course, it hurts even worse if you just made a sizable purchase outside of your financial comfort zone and then a not-so-much-more-expensive model is released soon thereafter with crazy-cool features. This crappy scenario often happens to people who tend not to do their homework before shelling out the bucks. Some perspective helps here. If it happens to you, remember that your model was featured in astounding ad campaigns not long too ago.
TIP: Take time to study your thoughts and feelings related to why you upgrade and how this process affects time spent on other commitments. You may find important parallels between upgrading behavior and how you invest in your relationships, baselines levels of thankfulness, the value you place on material goods, and whether you tend to locate happiness as outside of your current life situation.
The purpose of this post and other posts on Life Upgrading is to promote a higher level of mindfulness when choosing to upgrade. We often have multiple reasons why we would want to upgrade. It’s complicated.
Keep a look out for more helpful info on the mentality of upgrading in the future.