Do you really need that?

In the digital age, we are bombarded from all directions with social
links, RSS feeds, tweets, and all manner of other social media gizmos.
We are constantly plugged into the world of Look What Just Came Out That
You Need Now messages from friends and colleagues. Oddly, we never stop
to think whether we really need that new gadget.

Lately, I’ve been feeling pressure to buy an iPod Touch. A thousand little voices tell me I need it, I can afford it, what will it hurt to just buy the lowest-storage model… but they rarely, if ever, touch on the most important topic: do I need it?

As a web worker and an erstwhile member of the “coworking coffee
crowd,” I experience near-continual exposure to the Benefits and
Advantages of Switching to Mac. I own a first-gen iPod Nano that I
almost never use, and that’s about the extent of my Apple-ness. So, one
voice is telling me to get the Touch because, hey, it’s an upgrade over
my ancient Nano. Another voice, from the people in the coffee shop, is
telling me – sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly – that Apple is
what all the Cool Kids have.

I try and rationalize it. The iPod Touch can store contacts. It can
access the Web via wifi for free. It lets me view the weather forecast
wherever I find a hotspot. It plays music – and doesn’t need to be
connected to my computer to get new songs. It plays video, and if the
rumors are true, Quake III Arena. All things that, as a web worker, I
Need.

…but do I really? Will my life be any more complete after buying a
Touch? I tend to think not. After all, most purchases we make in our
lifetimes should satisfy a genuine need. Entertainment, personal growth,
and other less tangible concepts can easily be obtained through
non-material means. Hiking every month, for example, is a lot cheaper
than buying a new video game every month…and a lot better for you,
too.

So the next time you’re tempted to buy that new gadget that just came
out, think long and hard about WHY you need it. The decision may make
you a better person.

If you have a story about a time when you passed up (or bought!) a
gadget you didn’t really need, go ahead and share it!