The Story of Your Tech Life

John Herman makes a brilliant point in his article at Medium. The smartphones of today are the shitphones of the future. Yesterday’s iPhone technology is copied to produce cheap off-brand phones that are practically disposable. Because they’re at a ‘low, low price’ they can be very attractive to a thrifty customer. So, John used one to see if it holds up.

The easy tactile pleasure of a nice phone makes you feel like you’re at the center of the internet, which is designed to respond to your desires. A shitphone is a comparatively degraded interface with the world. A flicker, a stutter and a momentary freeze are all it takes to remind you that what we think of as the internet — the interminable feeds — will move on without you, and that this deflating realization awaits every giddy or obsessed smartphone user, eventually.

I’m humored by his insights. John seems to wrestle with the world of high-end and low-end products. Wouldn’t we all like it if there were no tradeoffs? Why can’t we have the ultimate tech geek dream: a fantastic product that works just the way we like it at an incredibly low price?

Frankly, if you’ve got to have products that run the way you’d like them all the time, then you should stop using technology, or it shouldn’t be your main hobby.

If shitphones were ready for everyone, they wouldn’t be shitphones. As devices, they’re nearly there; as buying decisions, they’re still exotic. They represent a compromise and a risk.

You get what you pay for, you know. This is not news to anyone.

I look forward to my first good shitwatch. I trust I will not wait long.

John’s looking at technology all wrong. We want our products to ‘just work’ 100% of the time, but that’s unreasonable. My body doesn’t function that way. People out there are already complaining that the Apple Watch “…only has 18 hours of battery life, and Apple calls that ‘all-day.’ That’s so not true…’’ But last I checked, my body won’t function for more than 18 hours at a time, so why do I need more from my watch? 18 hours is beyond my ‘all-day’ cycle. The machine that is my body has outrageous limitations. Do I look for new ways to complain about those? I try not to.

It’s like we’re finding ways to complain that a table saw won’t cut the wood for us so that we can kick back and drink lemonade all day. We measure the length of its blade. “Not good enough. This blade is only 5 inches in diameter. I’ve got to have 6 inches to be happy….”

I recommend that you stop looking for some arbitrary concept of perfection. Look for solutions — not problems. Don’t expect for an outside force to give you the ultimate life of ease. Focus on deriving your self fulfillment from something other than gadgets and gadget news. Stop looking for the device that will do it all.

Cut the cynicism out of your life. Look for fulfillment outside of technology. Focus on your loved ones and your personal accomplishments. Count your blessings every time that your phone actually works. It was insanely difficult for the product to come this far. This stuff is incredibly difficult to create.

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. We have to be reminded sometimes, or we’ll seep too deeply into our narcissism. Maybe it’s time to take a technology fast (go without all of the devices for awhile) so you can clear your head.


Joe Darnell

Joe is a UI and graphic designer with prior experience as the creative director for three media-based businesses. Joe’s passionate about web design and graphic design with about 15 years of experience in the media industry. Additionally, Joe is the host of the Top Brew and Techtonic podasts, both featured on iTunes.