Explaining our tech obsessions to non-tech people

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

I have gone back and forth with people many times about how expensive Apple products are and how it’s irrational to buy them when there is tech that is just as good and does all the same things which cost half the price. This argument was always frustrating because I didn’t have a great answer. When talking about the iPhone I would mention that it has a better camera, higher build quality, and a better interface than the cheap phones on the market. Often this would be received with a “but who cares?” response.

The bottom line was that if a $300 phone could go on Facebook, Snapchat, and do text messages, then that was good enough. You could pay $650-850 for an iPhone, but it does the same things. Maybe it does them faster and some things may be a little easier or more intuitive, but it certainly wasn’t worth the extra money.

Then I was at lunch with some people from work and we were discussing high end cars. I’m not much of a car guy, but my co-workers were going on and on about the new [insert cool cars here] and how they compare to last year’s models and how you can spend a little more to get something even better. I should also note that all of these guys drive nicer cars than they need to survive. I’m the guy with a Hyundai Accent and a bike that I ride to work, and these guys are driving around sports cars with aftermarket enhancements. I love hearing these guys talk about this stuff because I understand the passion they feel for their hobby. I don’t feel that for cars (my Accent gets almost 50 MPG highway and is safe, which are the most important things), but I do feel it for tech.

My Hyundai Accent is the Moto G of cars. It’s good enough at everything I need it to do and I don’t care enough about the differences, no matter how obvious they are to car nuts, to make me want to fork over thousands more for the privilege.

The difference between car and tech obsessions is that most car nuts have to talk about their dream cars in theory. Maybe they’ll go to a track day and get to drive a really expensive car once or twice, but they’ll likely be admiring from afar. If you obsess over smartphones, there’s a much lower barrier to entry to get your dream phone. The fact that I can walk into a carrier store today and get the phone of my dreams for less than $35/month makes this a very accessible hobby comparatively.