Do you resent your work PC as being slow or “boring”? Is your cute smart phone the first thing you check in the morning and last thing you look at before sleep? Not many of us have emotional attachments to our household tools, but often we have strong feelings about the tech we use at home, work or out and about.
More Than Just Hardware
When Google announced changes to its privacy policies, people went online to say how much they “loved” Google and its products or how they felt “betrayed” by the business practices of a corporation that managed their interaction with the Internet, videos and email.
With the latest news of Facebook buying photo app Instagram, Twitter news feeds filled up with people saying they would delete their accounts to avoid Facebook integration. People were emotionally upset that their favorite indie app would now be part of the social media giant.
Is this rational? Is it just a matter of us developing a “relationship” with quality products and user experiences? Is something else going on? Think of people lining up around the block at an Apple store to buy the latest product that could have been ordered online or purchased without delay from a non-Apple retailer such as Best Buy, AT&T or Walmart. Why do some consumers feel the need to commune with other fans or to give their allegiance to a giant corporation? Isn’t it just a phone or computer?
The Digital Tie That Binds
Most of us realize that our emotions shouldn’t be involved to the point that we act against self-interest. But these seemingly simple tools are important because they represent our connection to our online selves. They help us find access to our favorite places, our self-expression and our friends. Much like naming our cars and projecting a personality upon it, the current generations of users attribute those same qualities that a car used to provide to their personal technology. In fact, recent research says that many teens would prefer a smartphone over a car if they had to choose.
One way to judge whether you are emotionally attached to your technology is to imagine packing your car to escape a fire or hurricane. Think of what you would bring that could fit in the backseat of your phone. A phone might be a practical choice for communication, what is stored on it and for the ability to access the Internet wirelessly. But what else would you bring? Your tablet computer? Your TV? Your PlayStation? These are all expensive items but are they more important than photos, clothes, food, sleeping bags?
They're Just Machines
It is great to value our choices, but don’t forget that gadgets are just that, gadgets. You shouldn’t use them to ignore your family at gatherings, check your phone while driving, buy the latest versions when your current version is serving you well or make any other decision that is driven by emotion instead of your good sense.
Does it matter to you if your loveable indie app is bought by a large corporation? Or if your favorite website changes its layout? Don’t confuse the emotion with your good sense. Clever advertising is used to create a brand’s image and often that image is more heavily invested in than in improving the product. There is nothing inherently wrong in “loving” your gadgets. But do be aware of the effect that emotion can have in clouding your decision-making and learn to laugh a bit at your attachment to your tools.