f you’re around technology for any length of time, you know how short the shelf-life is for gadgets and gizmos. You have likely heard there is another iPhone watch that has come out. There’s also the PlayStation 5, The XBox X|S, a wealth of new 50″ televisions, new shows for Hulu and Apple+ and that CBS All-Access has rebranded to Paramount+.
And that was just last week. Change is the constant in technology. But the biggest goal is to disrupt. Disruption is a relatively new term – born just in this millennium. It started in the tech industry where companies like Google and Apple and Microsoft were looking for the next “killer app” that would take their competitors down a peg. A great example of a market disruption was the Pokemon app that brought a new group of customers to the gaming experience – namely, fat kids like me, who got up off their couches and started playing outside. From that disruption, a new category of apps called “enhanced reality gaming” was introduced. The tech industry feeds on disruption.
There are others, however, myself included, who kind of like things just the way they are. No, my watch can’t tell me my cholesterol, but it is telling me that I’m almost late for my dentist’s appointment, and that’s fine by me. I love a new piece of tech as much as the rest of us. But imagine buying a new car every 12 months just because they have a new leather cover for your steering wheel and a blue knob for your radio instead of a red one.
Disruption feeds disruption and our ever-shortening attention spans (a byproduct of that disruptive environment) know that your blue knobbed car is now inferior to the red knobbed cars. You’ve been disrupted.
Unfortunately, the disruption environment has seeped into everything we interact with. Our grocery store wasn’t good enough with those snot-nosed teenagers running the registers. Now we have self-service checkout counters. Men’s underwear for decades featured a vertical flap for your, ehrm, goodies. And the last pack of men’s drawers I bought, the flap was now horizontal. Some designer in some boardroom got a big bonus for that disruption.
It has even permeated Washington, where the status quo was deemed the Swamp and a shady New York real-estate mogul was needed to disrupt the system.
I’ve about had it with disruption. Sometimes things are fine. Growing up, my grandmother had a toaster that lasted decades. She would even take it to a repair shop when it wasn’t working. Now, you treat a toaster as disposable, and you can search YouTube for 200 different ways to toast bread. Or if you really want to ruin your toaster search how to make a grilled cheese in a toaster and don’t blame me when your insurance company fails to pay your fire claim.
If we’re always looking and needing the new thing, we fail to look behind us at all of the things we had and are abandoning. It’s a victimless crime when it comes to deleting one app in favor of another. And it’s still relatively harmless when you decide you need a new toaster with a green timer instead of that black toaster with the chrome timer.
But it conditions our minds to be unhappy with what is and what we have. It conditions our minds to need disruption. I think disruption is just another term for chaos. And we’ve already got plenty of that.
Maybe I’ll get the one with the green button though. That looks pretty great.