We Complain About Tech Way Too Much

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print
technology marvels

It doesn't hurt to remind ourselves occasionally—while we're kvetching that our mobile app crashed or the network is sluggish—that we live in remarkable times.

Today's technology is nothing short of mind-bending. We have mobile phones and video chat tools that connect people and data in real time from almost any point on earth to almost any other point on earth.

We have satellites that beam video all over the place and WiFi at 30,000 feet. We fly across the country in hours and send files to colleagues in milliseconds. We have thousands of songs in our pocket and the ability to instantly view tens of thousands of movies at home—all at the push of a button.

So, you would think that we would count our lucky stars and marvel at the wonders of the modern world and what we have built. You would think we would realize that the things that irritate us about technology are the very same things that people a century ago—heck, even a decade ago--would have lusted over.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. We gripe, complain and moan about dropped calls, slow connections and missing features. We tweet complaints and post stinky reviews on Yelp or Amazon. I'm probably a top 10 offender.

But let's get real. The amazing devices, software and tech capabilities at our fingertips are to be appreciated—perhaps even cherished—and for more than simply because they're cool. Medical technology allows us to live longer and better. Cars are becoming safer all the time. And data from smartphones, embedded sensors and other devices provides deep insight into the world around us—and helps society march forward.

Let's face it, no matter how incredible a new technology is, it soon becomes old technology. At some point in history, film, vinyl records, electric typewriters, dot-matrix printers, pagers and 300-baud modems were newfangled inventions that wowed people.

Sure, a lot of products could and should be better, and too many manufacturers view the public as their beta testers. But it's also human nature to become accustomed to a new product or feature very quickly. It simply becomes the new baseline. Researchers describe this as sensory adaptation.

The upshot? It doesn't hurt to remind ourselves occasionally—probably while we're kvetching that our mobile phone app crashed or the network is a bit sluggish—that we live in truly remarkable times. So, take a take a deep breath, reset your thinking and reboot your device. Life and work will go on.

This article was originally published on 2014-02-21

Samuel Greengard is a contributing writer for Baseline.

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