Technology Autobiography

            Elle Woods, from Legally Blonde, has been my idol since the movie came out in 2001. As a child I looked up to her because she was blonde and loved pink as much as I did. I’ve never been much of a computer person, but I wanted to be exactly like her and have the same computer as her for when I went to college. The white Mac with orange corners became a necessity for my college dream. The only reason I became interested in computers was because of the movie. Many people base their preferences of technology on what is cool at the time or what appears to be cool from movies or TV shows. People also base the types of devices that they get on what other people have. Technology is one thing that is largely determined by looks and popularity.

            I used to always think of technology as boring or monotonous. I didn’t like the portable CD player that my brother had when I was little because it was black and ugly. For a birthday present, my mom gave me a teal CD player. The only difference between mine and my brother’s was the color, but I liked mine so much more because of the way that it looked. This falls into judging based on the cool factor because I refused to be interested in CD players until they came out with a pretty one.

            When cell phones started to become popular, I wanted one just so I could appear cool. My mom and my brother each got one, and I was extremely jealous. It was practical for my brother to have a cell phone at that time because he was in high school and played sports. He also attended a high school that was not in our town, so he used his cell phone to call for rides, and to contact my parents. I was only in 6th grade, and there was no need for me to have a phone. Since more and more people in my grade started to get phones I was finally able to convince my parents to get me one. Even though I shouldn’t have been picky about what cell phone I got, I made sure to get a flip one that looked sophisticated. At that time the bar phones were not cool, so I had to get a flip one. It was completely unnecessary for me to have a cell phone when I was 12 years old. I didn’t have people that I needed to call where I couldn’t have used my home phone. Today there are children in elementary school that have cell phones. There is absolutely no reason why they would need one that young, but they do because it’s considered cool.

            Towards the end of middle school I discovered texting. My cell phone had always been capable of sending messages; I just didn’t take advantage of it because it wasn’t the thing to do at that time. No one communicated by texting until about my sophomore year of high school. Prior to this time texting was possible, it just wasn’t popular. Once the texting craze hit, it was considered weird to not have texting as part of your phone plan. Since texting, phone calls have become a thing of the past. Sometimes a phone call is necessary, but usually texting is much easier and doesn’t take much effort. When cell phones were made, they were capable of sending messages; it just wasn’t cool at the time. It has been about four years since texting became popular, but has remained cool ever since.

            There have been many new inventions and technological advances during the time of my childhood. My first reaction when something new comes onto the market is usually to dislike it until it becomes something that a lot of people start using. One example of this would be the mp3 player. When it first came out, I didn’t understand why people couldn’t just listen to the radio or to CDs. I also thought it was weird that you would have to pay for every single song. When the first iPod came out, I didn’t like the way it looked or the whole concept of having to put music on the computer in order to put it onto the device. Soon enough though, iPods became popular and have been ever since. Other types of mp3 players aren’t very popular because everyone has an iPod. Every year there are new iPods that come out. I got one of the first iPod minis. The only reason I got one was because everyone was getting them, and since everyone else had one I thought I should get one. I was also persuaded to get an iPod because they started making colored ones. It wasn’t much of a decision to decide on the pink iPod mini. My iPod lasted me for a good four years, but every year there would be new ones with better features. After about a year my mini was considered old because the screen was not in color. Even though I knew mine wasn’t cool anymore, I decided to wait until college to get a new one. I am happy that I waited because of course they came out with a new touchscreen pink iPod Nano. One of the main reasons I decided to wait was because they didn’t have any pink ones until the year I was going off to college. Since I am part of the culture that buys things based on looks, I waited until pink iPods were sold again.

            One of the major influences of “cool” that has affected my view on technology has been the movie Legally Blonde. I didn’t know anything about computers before seeing this movie. The laptop that she bought for college quickly became the computer that I planned to buy for college. I only liked her computer because it was white with orange corners. It was a Mac and since she had a Mac in the movie, of course I wanted a Mac. The only reason I based my preferences on this type of computer was because it was in my favorite movie. I didn’t base what I liked on the functionality, I based it on what was cool in a movie and what I thought would be cool. When the time came to get a laptop for college, I wasn’t able to get the orange and white Mac because it was ten years old. The computer I did choose was largely based on the way it looked. I wanted to get a pink computer since it’s my favorite color, and I personally think the colored computers look better than plain black ones. I could have gotten a Mac, but I didn’t because the only Mac I would have been happy with would have been the one from Legally Blonde.  Instead I purchased a pink laptop mostly because of the color and the way that it looked.

            There’s nothing wrong with determining preferences off of what other people have or what they think is cool. Our generation is constantly doing this. It happens with almost everything, but is especially clear through technology. The cool factor of technology is the same as the cool factor described in Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Coolhunt.” There are people out there that determine what people like and what people would like to see in new products. This is an important aspect of technology since there are upgraded products coming out all of the time. It is not considered cool if someone has an old version of an electronic device. People’s electronics are considered cool if they have the latest version. One of the major driving forces that propels technological advances is if the products are cool or not. If people weren’t so obsessed with having the most popular merchandise, technology wouldn’t have advanced as fast it did. Technology will always continue to grow because people will continue to buy the newest things. Popularity is part of our culture that will never go away.

            At an early age we were taught that peer pressure was bad and that looks weren’t everything. Technology completely contradicts these statements. I have judged every single piece of technology that I own based on looks. The reason for obtaining most of the electronic devices that I have is because other people had them. CD players, cell phones, iPods, and computers are just a few example of technology that have been improved based upon what is and isn’t cool. Technology thrives upon the society that we live in today because almost everything is based on popularity. Although this seems immoral, our culture has been like this since the beginning. Technology will never die because people will always want more.

By: Mary Van Alten

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