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It’s a mad world, our smart world

I was eyeing a rosé gold smartwatch at the electronics store that opened in my city last weekend. Though I hardly consider myself a gadget fan, I admit I was curious to discover the latest products on offer post-lockdown. I had to remind myself I haven’t worn a watch in years.

The world is getting smarter by the minute. Voice activated speakers? Check. Robotic vacuum cleaners? Check. Video doorbells that showcase who’s at your door and records while you’re away from home? Check. Lighting systems that correspond to the colours on your TV? Check. It’s hard to keep track of the list of impressive tools invented to make our lives easier.

Or, at least, more fun.

Smartwatches are already old news, technically. I never caved to this trend as I use my phone to trace my steps and never really liked the designs. Seems big brands like Michael Kors are here to test my resolve. ‘So pretty,’ I was tempted to say, weaving in and out of brightly lit counters. I made the mistake of trying it on and have since placed the Swarovski adorned luxury item on my imaginary wishlist.

I should know better. There is already so much e-scrap in the world. The thing is, a lot of electronics cater to our curiosity, our vanity, our sense of whimsy. As a consumer, we’re programmed to think; why not?

Recyclers are often left to clean up the mess.

Even the traditional people in my life have had a change of heart. Take my my uncle, Albert, an amateur photographer, for example. He recently bought his first ever drone (for a ‘great price’ from a buddy of his who was upgrading his own). He intends on flying it out over the tulip fields and farmlands come springtime and summer. No doubt, he will get some wonderful shots of the Dutch countryside from a previously impossible perspective.

Meanwhile, my college friend, Ella, recently installed one of those Ring doorbells at her house. Her husband called her at work with the rather cryptic message to ‘not be startled’ when reviewing the footage at the end of the day. Naturally, that’s the first thing she did when she came home. To her shock and amazement, the device had recorded their mailman depositing their newspaper, after which he looked around nervously and urinated all over the bushes with a loud ‘aaaghhhh’.

Despite our advanced technology, we hardly live in a fool-proof society, eh?

Trust and privacy are also potentially at stake. Consider this; what happens if you accidentally let the wrong person into the digital fortress that is your home? I was watching the new addition to the Scream franchise at the theatre and recall a scene in which ‘Ghostface’ promptly unlocked the doors of the victim’s so-called “connected home” (a market projected to be worth EUR 758 million by 2027).

I suppose any app and device can be hacked. It’s a dreadful thought, and the reason I prefer keys.

In summary, not all things that are shiny and new are better.

(Still might get that watch, though. I’ll wait until there’s a discount…)

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