I’ve always been a portable gadget geek. I carried a PDA before there were enough devices on the market for them to be called PDAs. I have a box at work that is filled with devices, like the Palm V and the Apple Newton, that I believe were just too far ahead of their time and will return in a reincarnated form that will amaze everybody but me. I expect it. I also keep the local electronics recycler busy with digital cameras, voice recorders, ebook readers, and a host of other devices that sounded more cool than they turned out to be.
As each new gadget arrives, I immediately start rationalizing why I MUST have one. “Of course I need the new whatchamacallit because it will save me time, space, money, etc.” I’ve used this argument to buy electronic book readers, tablet PCs, PDAs, smart phones, GPS units, heart rate monitors, bigger flash drives, cameras, and all manner of other devices. When I’m buying them for work I can add the excuse that I need to experiment with it so I can report to my small business computer outsourcing customers.
One excuse I’ve never used is that the device will let me play my favorite game of the day while I’m sitting around in waiting rooms and airports or my living room while my wife is watching a TV show that makes my brain disolve. I don’t use that excuse because it won’t fly. However, one of the first things I check is whether I can get a version of my current favorite time waster on it. For a long time that meant it had to play Bejeweled.
I can’t count the number of times Susie asked me to “put that thing down and spend some time with me!” I always responded that “I am spending time with you.”
I didn’t get it until she got an iPhone and became so hooked on Bejeweled that I had to give it up. I knew that the monster I saw her becoming was the monster I had been for a long time. I also saw that she would soon surpass my high scores. I have found suitable replacements that rob my family of my attention and cause me to lose track of time until hunger pangs remind me how long it’s been since I last ate even though I’m still sitting at the table. Sometimes it takes the low battery notice to get me to stop.
I know it’s out of control, just like my gadget buying habit. (How do I justify a new Droid?) I can’t stop myself most of the time. I even have studies on aging and brain function that I can use to justify my marathon casual gaming. I don’t care if the research is spotty or flaky. I can use it to justify the behavior I want to continue. I’ve done similar things to validate my high cholesterol and my daily alcohol consumption. Even my chocolate obsession is supported by tax funded university research.
So I can’t wait for whatever is next. I’m probably going to buy it with a solid reason that doesn’t hint of addiction.