In pursuit of technology

BY: Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng

As a general rule, I like to bleed my shoes and clothes out close to breaking point before I get rid of them. I am not sure if I am the only one who develops quite a bond with these items over a period of time, such that it is almost traumatic to get rid of them, however, tired they are when their retirement is due.

Mobile phones

Somehow, it is not quite the case with my mobile phones. While I can be quite loyal to a brand, I start falling out of love with my mobile phone once the battery starts showing signs of tiredness, or it splutters and coughs forever before it powers on.

I just do not like an incompetent phone. Like most people I know, my work and personal life revolve around my mobile phone, so I am keen to ensure that it is always in top shape.

Sometimes, there really is not much wrong with it, but I may still feel like changing it, especially when my birthday or Christmas is around the corner and I decide I deserve a treat of sorts.

I am currently in one of those moods. My birthday is in September and I have already been having a conversation with myself over my Samsung A51 mobile phone.

Truth be told, she is a smooth piece of work. Her camera is crystal clear and sound quality is in good form. What more can I ask for from a mobile phone? Yet my heart wants to move on and I have already been looking round, even though my pocket and my brain tell me otherwise.

Phone shock

Last week, I met a lady friend at a funeral in Kumasi. I noted that she was using a rather sleek Samsung mobile phone, and since I am looking to retire my A51 phone, I asked to see it. It was smooth, slim and beautiful.

What fascinated me most was that one could open it like a book, which gave a much wider screen, almost like a small tablet. I was hooked almost immediately and I asked her how much it was.

“12,000 Ghana Cedis’, she replied coolly. Initially I thought I had misheard her. She repeated the figure upon my request. Noting the look of utter shock on my face, she smiled and intoned, ‘‘this is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, darling”, and proceeded to state its features with the aplomb of a Samsung sales agent.  It took quite a while for my mind to stop whirring like an overused corn mill. I calculated what exactly I could buy with 12,000 Ghana Cedis, or for emphasis, ‘120 million old cedis’. Quite a lot!

Of course, because I did not have that sort of money, I began waxing lyrical about the fact that so long as a mobile phone could make and receive calls, send and receive messages and take decent photographs, that was all that mattered.

My lady friend looked at me with a thin smile that bordered on pity as I assumed the role of a philosopher King. She must have been thinking ‘poverty talk!’

You see, I have friends who consider their mobile phones obsolete the moment the manufacturer hits the market with a model one notch up and are quite prepared to spend some good money to go for the latest.

Interestingly, as they chase the wind of every technological improvement on their model of mobile phones, the vast majority of the features on even their old phone remains unused and probably never will be used.

Pace of technology

The interesting thing with technology is that with sheer innovation, it never stands still. In the last decade or two, the pace has been swift. The breathtaking piece of technology that you fawn over today becomes a relic in a short space of time, whether it is television, camera, laptop or car.

I still remember my cutting-edge Nokia 3310 mobile phone back in the 1990s that today looks like a collectors’ item from the Bronze Age, as well as my hip Kodak camera with its film strip of 36 shots back at university in the early 1990s.

But much as it may seem almost pointless and perhaps even vain to run after every new technology that appears on the market, the fact remains that man, by nature, is hardly satisfied with his station, which is the driving force behind all the amazing leaps and bounds in literally every aspect of our lives since the dawn of time.

Almost every complex item or structure that we see and marvel at today, from grand buildings to bridges to aircraft to anything else you can think of today evolved from much simpler and sometimes even by crude concepts centuries ago. Man refused to stand still or be satisfied with his station, so the boundaries kept pushing and pushing. As new things came on the market and were more convenient or performed better or had better aesthetics, consumer hunger snapped it up, which in turn drove more innovation to go further.

I do not think we have quite approached the final frontier in technology. The human mind is a beautiful thing and will keep pushing, both in terms of a desire to produce and a desire to consume.

Dilemma

Dear reader, I am in a fix. Should I stick to my A51 and plod along, or should I take a deep breath and plunge into the Galaxy Z Fold 2 after begging and threatening and blackmailing my bank manager for a flexible overdraft? Is it a matter of ‘vanity, vanity, all is vanity’, or ‘what the hell, you only live once’?

If I decide to take the plunge, it means I will have to consider the new phone as my birthday and Christmas present rolled into one and cut out on a lot of things. I am sure the feel good factor would be excellent. What is a life spent counting the pennies?

On the other hand, what if I lose the phone just a month after acquiring it? With 120 million old cedis, I can give my flat in Kumasi a complete makeover or do many wonderful things.

What do you think?

 By Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng

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