Technology and Advancement: Why Do We Still Use Older Technology?

“Hey, do you want one?” My friend holds up her Polaroid camera to me after snapping one of her own. I gladly accept, excited to have this special moment captured. In true millennial fashion, we are loaded up with technology: two cameras, cell phones, and laptops. Taking photos with a camera, then our phones, and finally each taking a Polaroid, my friend and I have recorded our memories in many different ways. Our decision to use a combination of old and new technology is influenced by many factors, but why do we continue to use older technology when newer alternatives exist—what keeps it in our lives?

Being in the midst of an explosion of personal technology has shaped the way we interact with each other and technology itself. With more options than ever before, humans seem to naturally gravitate toward technology that makes our lives easier and more efficient, unless emotionally invested. Many forms of technology tend to gradually replace each other as they become more efficient. As such, much of what we consider “advancement” relates to speed, convenience, and availability of choice. That said, whether those developments are rooted in efficiency or expanding choice (although the two are not mutually exclusive) depends on the type of technology.

Some technology is designed with the intent of improving upon an older version, whereas other inventions are created to provide alternatives.

For example, the vast improvements in technology available for people hard of hearing or deaf have radically changed their experiences and quality of life. Compared to even a quarter of a century ago, cell phones with messaging features, closed captioning on televisions and videos, and hearing aid technology have changed the deaf community’s lives, making public spaces and services more accessible. This type of technological advancement is mostly intent on improving existing technology and, as a result, people’s lives. In contrast, the CD, iPod, and music streaming services are advancements that provide variety to consumers; they are all ways to listen to music that offer more choices and availability.

However, sometimes technology intended to provide choice is bypassed because of the ease factor. New inventions are often spoken about as if they are evidence of humankind’s “advancement,” as if we are somehow evolving at the speed of light. The comparison of word processing and email to writing and sending letters is commonplace when marveling at the sheer amount of technology at our fingertips in the 21st century. And yet, the available technology can be bypassed for the very reasons it’s often lauded—ease.

In my experience, it is much simpler to quickly jot down notes on paper during a lecture than it is to format them on a computer. While computer notepad technology is more advanced, pen and paper are still favored by many students because it is easier to use. In certain situations such as this one, some advanced technologies (laptops, word processing applications, etc.) are not necessary—and not preferred—to accomplish the same task. This kind of situation supports the idea that older technology (pen and paper, phone calls, etc.) can occasionally be simpler in comparison to technology that was created to provide a more technologically advanced alternative.

In addition to ease of use, emotional attachment or nostalgia can be another strong reason more advanced technology is passed over.

The continued use of physical books is an interesting intersection between ease of use and emotional value. In a world with services such as Kindle, the practice of buying physical books continues to triumph. According to The Guardian, as recently as 2016, physical book sales numbered in the billions while ebook sales ranged within the hundreds of millions. The newspaper also reported that ebook sales had fallen, while physical sales had risen by a few percent in 2016. 

Ebooks and audiobooks commonly occupy space in the travelsphere, where their purpose is to make people’s lives easier by being more accessible. And yet, people continue to purchase and use physical books. And therein lies an important distinction: choosing to use older technology not because it is easier or faster but because it has more emotional value. After all, people are not robots; they make decisions based on what feels better. Often, that can equate to faster or easier, but people will also prioritize nostalgia or beauty.

With that in mind, although Polaroids were once considered old-fashioned, they have made a tremendous comeback by providing people with a unique and physical way to remember their lives in a digital world. In this instance, people have again chosen to keep older technology alive. This choice is frequently motivated by nostalgia or aesthetic, as mentioned, which are two powerful emotional forces.

These days, Polaroids, record players, and hand-written letters have come to have a certain romantic nostalgia, even to those who did not grow up with or experience them originally. Parents and grandparents have used them, and, as a result, many younger people (like me) have grown up listening to the Beatles or Traveling Wilburys on record, looking at Polaroids in their baby albums, and keeping letters from family.

It is these very choices that remain interesting: why do people decide to continue making scrapbooks or sending postcards? It is slow, laborious, and difficult to share. However, society seems to be nostalgic for a simpler, more personally connected time, despite the rise of social media and related technology and the ease with which it allows contact. As much as machines, data clouds, and digital media are helpful, it is the people they help that remain central.

Technology may be seen as an unstoppable force, forever moving forward and constantly creating, but it still remains a simple tool within the world. Human imagination, love, and connection are the reasons technology exist in the first place, and if it does not serve to elevate human experiences, it will fade.

Ultimately, many inventions have made life simpler and faster, thus being seen as moving society forward. Nevertheless, they have not wholly replaced older technology. Ease of use or emotional impact can certainly be central deciding factors. People are complex and make decisions based on their guts. They want to experience, share, and remember with others. Whatever technology allows for a fulfilled life, rich with happiness, will be carried through the test of time via people’s choices. I accepted my friend’s offer of a Polaroid, knowing I will someday look back at this small, grainy photo and smile.



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Fascinated by words and how human stories create our global narratives. All we really have are our stories, and they are consistently what keeps human culture alive. Currently teaching English in South Korea and, in my free time, traveling, writing, prepping for graduate school, and watching Parks and Recreation.

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Technology and Advancement: Why Do We Still Use Older Technology?

“Hey, do you want one?” My friend holds up her Polaroid camera to me after snapping one of her own. I gladly accept, excited to have this special moment captured. In true millennial fashion, we are loaded up with technology: two cameras, cell phones, and laptops. Taking photos with a camera, then our phones, and finally each taking a Polaroid, my friend and I have recorded our memories in many different ways. Our decision to use a combination of old and new technology is influenced by many factors, but why do we continue to use older technology when newer alternatives exist—what keeps it in our lives?

Being in the midst of an explosion of personal technology has shaped the way we interact with each other and technology itself. With more options than ever before, humans seem to naturally gravitate toward technology that makes our lives easier and more efficient, unless emotionally invested. Many forms of technology tend to gradually replace each other as they become more efficient. As such, much of what we consider “advancement” relates to speed, convenience, and availability of choice. That said, whether those developments are rooted in efficiency or expanding choice (although the two are not mutually exclusive) depends on the type of technology.

Some technology is designed with the intent of improving upon an older version, whereas other inventions are created to provide alternatives.

For example, the vast improvements in technology available for people hard of hearing or deaf have radically changed their experiences and quality of life. Compared to even a quarter of a century ago, cell phones with messaging features, closed captioning on televisions and videos, and hearing aid technology have changed the deaf community’s lives, making public spaces and services more accessible. This type of technological advancement is mostly intent on improving existing technology and, as a result, people’s lives. In contrast, the CD, iPod, and music streaming services are advancements that provide variety to consumers; they are all ways to listen to music that offer more choices and availability.

However, sometimes technology intended to provide choice is bypassed because of the ease factor. New inventions are often spoken about as if they are evidence of humankind’s “advancement,” as if we are somehow evolving at the speed of light. The comparison of word processing and email to writing and sending letters is commonplace when marveling at the sheer amount of technology at our fingertips in the 21st century. And yet, the available technology can be bypassed for the very reasons it’s often lauded—ease.

In my experience, it is much simpler to quickly jot down notes on paper during a lecture than it is to format them on a computer. While computer notepad technology is more advanced, pen and paper are still favored by many students because it is easier to use. In certain situations such as this one, some advanced technologies (laptops, word processing applications, etc.) are not necessary—and not preferred—to accomplish the same task. This kind of situation supports the idea that older technology (pen and paper, phone calls, etc.) can occasionally be simpler in comparison to technology that was created to provide a more technologically advanced alternative.

In addition to ease of use, emotional attachment or nostalgia can be another strong reason more advanced technology is passed over.

The continued use of physical books is an interesting intersection between ease of use and emotional value. In a world with services such as Kindle, the practice of buying physical books continues to triumph. According to The Guardian, as recently as 2016, physical book sales numbered in the billions while ebook sales ranged within the hundreds of millions. The newspaper also reported that ebook sales had fallen, while physical sales had risen by a few percent in 2016. 

Ebooks and audiobooks commonly occupy space in the travelsphere, where their purpose is to make people’s lives easier by being more accessible. And yet, people continue to purchase and use physical books. And therein lies an important distinction: choosing to use older technology not because it is easier or faster but because it has more emotional value. After all, people are not robots; they make decisions based on what feels better. Often, that can equate to faster or easier, but people will also prioritize nostalgia or beauty.

With that in mind, although Polaroids were once considered old-fashioned, they have made a tremendous comeback by providing people with a unique and physical way to remember their lives in a digital world. In this instance, people have again chosen to keep older technology alive. This choice is frequently motivated by nostalgia or aesthetic, as mentioned, which are two powerful emotional forces.

These days, Polaroids, record players, and hand-written letters have come to have a certain romantic nostalgia, even to those who did not grow up with or experience them originally. Parents and grandparents have used them, and, as a result, many younger people (like me) have grown up listening to the Beatles or Traveling Wilburys on record, looking at Polaroids in their baby albums, and keeping letters from family.

It is these very choices that remain interesting: why do people decide to continue making scrapbooks or sending postcards? It is slow, laborious, and difficult to share. However, society seems to be nostalgic for a simpler, more personally connected time, despite the rise of social media and related technology and the ease with which it allows contact. As much as machines, data clouds, and digital media are helpful, it is the people they help that remain central.

Technology may be seen as an unstoppable force, forever moving forward and constantly creating, but it still remains a simple tool within the world. Human imagination, love, and connection are the reasons technology exist in the first place, and if it does not serve to elevate human experiences, it will fade.

Ultimately, many inventions have made life simpler and faster, thus being seen as moving society forward. Nevertheless, they have not wholly replaced older technology. Ease of use or emotional impact can certainly be central deciding factors. People are complex and make decisions based on their guts. They want to experience, share, and remember with others. Whatever technology allows for a fulfilled life, rich with happiness, will be carried through the test of time via people’s choices. I accepted my friend’s offer of a Polaroid, knowing I will someday look back at this small, grainy photo and smile.



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