Make it cool to downgrade and support those who can’t afford to be connected.

Had a very interesting chat with many in his late 70s today. He wanted to use the web and social media but felt he was being sold technology that was over specified. He bought a phone from the supermarket for £15 which suited his needs and now wanted something to write emails and connecting with people on-line socially. A family member suggested an iPad but he said this did all sorts of things he didn’t see a need for and that £400 was too expensive.

I agree that there is a pressure to buy more technology than we actually need. The upgrade culture is perhaps rather manipulative and we can certainly get drawn into the adventure of technology. It’s fun to see what the latest upgrades can do but I feel we must be wise to the marketing strategies behind all this.

I believe it would be a good thing if consumers occasionally pushed back on the upgrade froth and embraced downgrading as a cool thing to do. I have an old iMac at home which I use for video editing. The machine started to slow down and become unreliable which I put down to its age. I upgraded to the operating system Maverick which killed it completely. What I did then was to restore (downgrade) all the software from a few years ago and ignore the Apple alerts telling me I “needed” to upgrade the software – the iMac now runs beautifully and I’m very pleased with it.

Next, I have an iPhone 3Gs which really doesn’t work on the current sofware and many apps won’t work with the old software so instead I’m using a £12 phone from Tescos. My laptop is a Chromebook which doesn’t crash, starts up in 7 seconds, is lightweight and you can get one for well under £200.  Neither of these items is insured and I take them everywhere.

It’s not that I don’t think iPads are superb or hanker after a top of the range MacBook but I think I need to embrace some technology as a utility and be more aware of what I need.

In the course of my work, I encounter many people who frankly can’t afford to spend much on technology – and even if they do probably shouldn’t. I have seen at least one person on benefits who doesn’t eat well and yet sports the latest iPhone, iPad, camera etc.

To be very serious here, technology is not just for fun, it’s a very, very important part of our lives if we are to participate fully in our communities, businesses and national affairs. Technology gives us a competitive edge particularly in communications. It’s essential that everyone regardless of wealth should be connected so I do hope that we can see more respect shown to those who don’t upgrade who can only afford the basic requirements.

Perhaps you also can downgrade as an act of solidarity?