Getting out in front of being behind
Occasionally, when a Digital Slob stands up and surveys all his in-home tech gadgets, a simple phrase comes to mind:
Clearly, we're insane.
Case in point: myself. Within my four cozy walls, I've got no less than nine different screens for viewing online content -- that's 2.25 screens per wall (thankfully five also come with handy built-in calculators).
My home network is so elaborate the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating its potential to interfere with low-flying aircraft.
There's enough combined computing power under my roof to make chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov weep for mercy.
And yet, recently, I've felt technologically outdated.
I don't own an iPhone. My purebred Volkswagen is decidedly nonhybrid. All my TVs are still basically square in shape. I could go on, but there's only so much room on this ledge, and I don't want to draw a crowd.
Guess I've got a bad case of the ODDs.
Never heard of obsolete depressive disorder? That's probably because I just made it up. Google it in 48 hours and you'll see this is the only mention of it anywhere (this makes me the leading expert -- can a spot on the "Today" show between Benjamin Netanyahu and Nelly Furtado be far behind?).
ODD is triggered whenever the marketplace introduces cool new stuff a person cannot justify purchasing. As the fortunate dance cheek to cheek with their flavor of the month, the rest of us are left to feel like braces-faced, acne-prone teens standing by the bleachers on prom night.
Just like the flu, hay fever and obsessive compulsive American Idol complex, ODD is a seasonal affliction, peaking when tech companies tout their new wares for the holidays. Why Apple's Steve Jobs wasn't contained by the Centers for Disease Control years ago, when it would've made a difference, is beyond me.
Is your scratched and dented Compaq notebook decidedly un-Vista-ready? Will you be denied many of Leopard's pretty new operating-system spots because your old iMac doesn't have Intel inside? Is the romance gone between you and your RAZR phone because its screen only smudges when you touch it?
Then you suffer from ODD. Ask your doctor to look it up online -- in 48 hours.
Is there a cure? A treatment? An HMO that will agree to refer you to a specialist?
Short answers: no, maybe and only if you have a relative on your HMO's board of trustees.
Symptoms can be subdued by looking back at all the hot new concepts that went nowhere fast: Segways, New Coke, Origami Ultramobile PCs, parachute pants, KazaA, Leif Garrett.
But the best advice is to look forward. You didn't miss this wave; you're waiting for the next, bigger one.
Whenever the Vista operating system works out all its kinks, you (or your descendants) will have the wherewithal to buy it. Next year's iPhone will both cure cancer and be free with a two-year contract. The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle will run on crushed double-cheeseburger wrappers and Valu-Pak coupons.
There. Let the healing begin.