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Nirvana, Supercharged Widgets and the Technological Generation Gap

February 22nd, 2014 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, should I ask the overwhelming question of our age or take the advice of my old friend T.S.?

It seems about once a week I hear about another technological leap forward resulting in a new and improved techno-widget. Occasionally, I think I might like to have that latest, greatest Wonder Widget. But more often than not my reaction is: What was wrong with the old version?

In the spirit of transparency, I’ll admit that it has much to do with my age demographic. I’m at a change-averse age. I probably should have a more open mind. Mental note to work on that issue. In the meantime, I often imagine having a conversation with the whiz kid who came up with the new, supercharged widget. I think it might go something along these lines.

Michael: “Please explain to me what makes the new Wonder Widget better than the old one.”

Whiz Kid: “The new version is much faster – almost 200% faster!”

Michael: “No, I didn’t ask you what makes it different. I asked you what makes it better.”

Whiz Kid: “It’s better because it’s faster.”

Michael: “Who decreed that faster is automatically nirvana?”

Whiz Kid: ”Nirvana? Weren’t they a rock band back in the 80’s?”

Michael: “I’ll rephrase the question. Why is faster synonymous with better?”

Whiz Kid:  “Well, it’s kind of obvious. The Wonder Widget lets you finish the job faster so you can do more things then you did before.”

Michael: “But I already have too many things to do and that causes me a great deal of stress. What I would really like is to have fewer things to do and the freedom to do them at a leisurely pace. Can you help me with that?”

Whiz Kid: “You know, you’re kind of weird.”

Michael: “I prefer the term quirky. But that really has nothing to do with what we were talking about. My basic question is: Why do you keep inventing a new and improved version every six months when the old version is meeting my needs quite well.”

Whiz Kid: “Dude, nobody is forcing you to buy the new version.”

Michael: “But you deliberately engineer the new version so it is incompatible with older versions. And then you stop providing tech support for the old versions. So eventually I have no choice but to buy the new version even though I neither need nor want to do things faster.”

Whiz Kid: “Please go away.”

Michael: “Okay, but can I ask one more question?”

Whiz Kid: “I would prefer that you didn’t.”

Michael: “Just one more question. I promise. Do you know what a metaphor is?”

Whiz Kid: “Metafore – Sure, that’s the big Canadian company that design, installs and supports IT infrastructure solutions. Great company. I used to work for them.”

Michael: Suppressed groan. Realization of futility. “Sorry I asked.”

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at www.mdyetmetaphor.com or the novel online companion at www.mdyetmetaphor.com/blog.

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