Hold up a sec

I’ve always been an early adopter. Trying the latest gadgets is practically my specialty. Software, computers, phones, music, cameras, all of it. The excitement of new-shiny draws me in every time. It’s fun to try cool new stuff. I don’t even bother asking why I need whatever nifty device I just preordered; I just order it because it’s going to be better. Right?

On the other hand, I spend a lot of time using very old technology; things like manual typewriters, vinyl records, film cameras, etc. One reason for that is certainly nostalgia. I miss being wherever I was and with whomever I was with back then. Probably.

But there’s more to it than simply nostalgia. Using old technology reminds me to stop and say “Hey, hold up a sec. I’m not sure this new thing is actually better than what we had before.” In many cases, newer is better. That’s obvious. But there are aspects of older things that are lost in the name of convenience. For me, those aspects make the inconvenience worth the hassle. A few random examples I thought of today:

  • The tale told by books on a bookshelf
  • Deliberately, physically choosing a record to play
  • The sound of a typewriter
  • The permanence and personality of handwritten notes
  • Choosing just the right ink for a fountain pen
  • Truly owning my music
  • Lending out a favorite book
  • The magic of a photograph emerging in the darkroom chemicals
  • The feel of a high quality film camera
  • The rush of dropping a love letter into the mailbox

All of these things have been replaced by lesser, more convenient versions. Newer isn’t always better.