(or If It Ain’t Broke, Sell Them Upgrades)
Have you ever had the experience where you walk into a store to buy something and it’s just not there anymore. It might have been something you’ve been buying for years, like a particular pair of jeans, or maybe a comfort food. Then one day – poof – it’s just gone.
If you manage to track down someone who actually works in the store, and they are not some incoherent stoner or disdainful teenager, you usually get one of three responses:
- ” I don’t know”,
- “I just work here”, or
- “They don’t make that anymore.”
“Wait. They don’t make that any more? Did people stop buying it?”
“No, it was very popular.”
“So why did they stop making it if it was still selling and making money?”
“I don’t know. I just work here.”
Indeed, it seems sometimes they make changes for the sake of making changes. I suspect it has something to do with one division in the company trying to justify their bloated advertising budget. Or possibly some VP who thinks he’s being helpful and everyone agrees with him because he plays golf with the president of the company (when he’s not in the office, firing people).
When Facebook makes a change, the backlash hits the major media outlets. (That’s so much better than reporting on all those pesky wars and stuff.) It seems that software manufacturers and web designers are never satisfied with the status quo. They seem insistent on updating (i.e. breaking) things that were working fine. I can tell the date by how many times I’ve updated Above Flash Player.
Yes, hardware improves and hackers find ways to exploit code, but there must be something more to it than that. It must be some sort of job creation program, like planned obsolescence. Or the government is conducting secret psychological tests to see how much crap we can take. (Let’s move the buttons again, bwahaha.)
I know what you’re thinking: if you don’t like it, then don’t use these products and services. But that’s no longer an option. More and more, people are using social media and other technologies to stay in contact and keep relevant in rapidly changing culture and economy. In a few short years, virtually all worthwhile content will be streamed directly to you, and your only other option will be to unplug and go live in a cave. (Let’s call that Plan B.) Try to run a business today without a web page and Facebook and Twitter accounts. I dare you.
So what’s the answer? Like so many of our human problems there isn’t one. Civilizations, like people, need to experiment and figure themselves out by trial and error; to keep what works and discard what doesn’t. And then one day, like a wizened old man with a long gray beard, our society will look back on itself and find a peace with its past.
And then it will die. Then comes the apocalypse and the whole thing starts over again. Circle of life, people. So, as long as I can get cupcakes, a decent computer game, and shoes in my size, you are safe from the zombies.
Also, find your own cave. This one’s mine.