Coffee, Gadgets, Change

I bought a coffee machine today.  The previous machine churned out black gold for over twenty years.  In this age of disposable everything I have no complaints with it.  But this morning I got up and wandered out to the kitchen and looked at the plastic auto-barista.  I realized I’d stared bleary-eyed at the same machine when I was a twenty something with hair down to my shoulders.  Given all the mileage and wear and tear from there to here, it struck me suddenly as depressing.

I resist buying a lot of new gadgetry because I think most of it is bull.  I’m sort of a techno-Calvinist who assumes most new innovations are part of a giant conspiracy to lull us into becoming pod people providing BTUs to the Matrix.  Yes, I know this is ironic since I work in internet based marketing.  Maybe I know something you don’t?  Probably not.  However, I do think most technology gadgets are unnecessary fopistry.

True, since getting a Droid phone I’ve discovered it’s a handy tool for anyone who wants to be free of sitting at a desk all day.  There are exceptions to my Luddite ways.  In the case of the coffee machine I was startled and awed like some cargo cult native to learn that I could set the thing to have coffee ready when I wake up.  It also self-cleans which, I confess, makes no sense to me and may be the work of Satan.  I know the oven self-cleans but I’m unclear how the coffee machine could do the same.

Whatever.  I’m guessing that coffee waiting in the morning may do more to get me up and moving than any philosophical motivations.  The machine also has the virtue of being shiny and looks good in the kitchen.  Hey, aesthetics count.  The Agathoi of the epics would have fought single combats for a good shiny coffee machine.

I suppose the Stoics would say that taking pleasure in a coffee machine is an indifferent; fine as long as I don’t grow overly attached and find harmony disrupted by its absence.  I think I am good with that.  I don’t truly care about the cool new machine.  What interested me was the old machine came to represent baggage.  I associated it with some not entirely pleasant days of my life.  Perhaps the Stoics would say that I should not have let it evoke any emotion at all.  It is, after all, merely an object.  But sometimes I think we need to engage in a little closet cleaning and let in something new.  Stagnation is death.

Introspection aside, the real test will come tomorrow when I see if the thing actually makes good coffee. That is, after all, what will really matter.

2 Responses to “Coffee, Gadgets, Change”

  1. I’m with you on distrusting gadgets. Have you ever heard the saying, “Invention is the mother of necessity”? The idea is that we tend to become dependent on these things as we buy them, which is great for those in the manufacturing business, especially seeing as in these days of mass production, ‘planned obsolescence’ is a factor in much of what we buy. This is the reason I stopped using electric razors: I’d buy one and use it for a year or so, and then when I needed to replace a part I’d start looking around and realize, that model is no longer supported by the factory. So I had to buy a NEW electric razor. I did that three times before I got wise to it and started buying manual razors. They wear out at the same rate, and they’re a lot less expensive to get!

    I don’t know about you, but the older I get the less keen I am on depending on these things. I would rather use simpler tools which are easier to repair; the more complicated a system, the more likely it is to break down. I’ve been trying to transition into using more “old-fashioned” tools — a manual can opener instead of an electric one, for instance, mechanical alarm clocks that don’t need batteries, and this summer I’m hoping to buy a hand-pushed reel mower to cut grass with that doesn’t require gasoline or spark plugs…just a little ol’ elbow grease.

  2. I have a strange balancing act to play with technology. My work and business revolve around it. Without an internet connection and my handy Droid I’m dead in the water. Also, I make my living helping companies peddle their goods. So I’m a bit of a hypocrite if I go on a hate tirade about all gadgets. I wouldn’t be writing this without a laptop. But, yes, I agree with you about how much these things make us their servants rather than the reverse. If self-reliance is a characteristic of a free person then its probably good to be able to open your own cans and mow a lawn without motors. Besides, gas prices for that mower are getting ugly.

    I try to strike a balance. We don’t have a dishwasher because we don’t need one. I have computers because I do. I guess a good barometer may be if your ability to live continues reasonably well if the power suddenly goes out. That can opener will come in handy.

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