Tisdagstema: TeknikYes, you read that headline right. I still use a VCR. Granted, I didn’t pull my VCR out of the back of my closet until two months ago, but there it sits atop my DVD player. Now I know what you’re thinking: “What the what?!” “OMG! Get with the 21st century already!” “Dinosaur! J’accuse!”

Guess what? I also use a leather-bound planner, borrow books from the library on a weekly basis, and own an alarm clock without a snooze button. Am I a Luddite afraid of embracing new technology? Absolutely not. I simply prefer to incorporate technology into my lifestyle as it suits me and my budget. I also own a smartphone, a Google Voice account and watch the majority of my “cable TV” online. (By the way, that’s why I use a VCR. I don’t have cable TV, hence no DVR service.)

Yet, despite discovering a system that works for me, I’m constantly encountering an onslaught of disparaging remarks and haughty attitudes toward anyone who doesn’t possess an iPhone or multi-monitored, high-powered computer workstation? From Mashable to WorkAwesome to FreelanceFolder, I’ve seen comments riddled with snark mocking anyone who may prefer a dumbphone or netbook over an Android or iPad.

In 2007, I revealed to a co-worker that I didn’t have internet access at home at the moment. Her response? “OMG Candy! Get with the 21st century, why don’t you?” This short-sighted young snob didn’t take into consideration that I had just moved into a new apartment, I worked 9-to-11-hour days at the same office as she or that I cared more about paying down my credit card debt than chatting with friends on MySpace. I could’ve explained all of this to her, as well as mention how my financial situation made accessing the internet at work and the library a much more affordable option. But I didn’t because
1) it was none of her business, and 2) she needs to learn how to associate with people whose lives don’t mimic her own.

Unfortunately, therein lies the problem. I wonder if the concept of seeing others following paths divergent from our own makes some feel as if their choices are being judged.

New technology doesn’t scare me, but I prefer to use what works best for me. Simplistic philosophy,
I know. I love the tactile experience of handling a library book that’s been in the clutches of other patrons who may share my interests and ideas. But I also like having access to my RSS feed and e-mail from my phone and watching The Colbert Report online while I wash dishes. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing experience when it comes to technology.

More importantly, considering the possibility that someone may not have the same amount of disposable income or inclination to toss money away on every incarnation of the new i-Something isn’t a lot to ask. Everyone should feel free to adapt technology to their own routines and lifestyles without feeling judged about their preferences. It goes back to a lesson most of us learn at a young age, but conveniently forget when we reach adolescence or adulthood: It’s okay to be different.

Trying to Decide by Hiking ArtistSome cling to old technology out of nostalgia (see the current vinyl record boom), some do so out of fear, and some simply prefer to not have technology and public opinion dictating what’s best for them. I would like to think most of us approach our lifestyles this way, but I know that peer pressure is as common in our 40s as it is in our teens. Yet it saddens me when I see this behavior play out on some of my favorite forums.

At the risk of sounding naive, I hope we can reach a point where we accept the choices of others as something other than a silent judgment of our own preferences. And maybe learn to follow our own paths without fear of ridicule. In the end, the way in which we run our businesses and live our lives should be related to our goals. For instance, what do you wish to accomplish? What are you willing to give up in order to attain those goals? Once we can answer these questions honestly, I think we will learn to appreciate the choices that others make as well.

Do you find it difficult to understand someone else’s technological choices?
Has anyone ever had difficulty understanding yours?