For many years there were apparent differences between the technology we bought. Clear divides between what companies were and were not able to produce, the laptop market was still as it is now, but in mobile some phones sucked, and other prevailed. A tech world was a sea of constant compromises as brands valued different things in their TVs, computers and even headphones.
Now, more than ever, everything is the same. Sure there are a few items which are considered ‘the best’, but in almost all price points and markets, most things are pretty much created equal. Gone are the days of being able to answer an enquiry of what laptop to buy with “just get a MacBook Air”.
So how exactly do people wade through a world this complicated? It’s a huge task, but it is now absolutely vital that users start to choose items based on the ethics and values that a company holds.
Before you dive into any new doodah, consider a company’s ethics, morals, branding and messaging. If you aren’t comfortable, look to alternatives. – Farhad Manjoo
Sure you can pick up a de-humidifier or Bluetooth speaker for a fraction of the price from a small Chinese brand that may disappear tomorrow. We as users have no idea where they come from, how it is made or indeed who the profit is going to. Apple can and should be held up if the production lines don’t provide adequate conditions, but can all companies? Do you know what your investment is funding, where the item came from and what went into it? Are you comfortable to the investment the workers put into it in exchange for what you will get out of it?
All of these questions are almost impossible to answer completely, but the real issue is how many people out there don’t care. Consumers are told to focus on what the device can do, and how much better it is than the last one instead of what the real value of the device is. This device might be cost-effective to you, or it might just be the best thing on the market, but what went into making it? Are you paying for it in other ways, or are other people paying for it in the worst way possible?
This is without taking into account the amount of personal data we give up to brands we have never heard of. Millions attach cheap home automation gadgets to their home WiFi with no thought of what it may be doing with all the data flowing through it. When are even leading phone brands such as OnePlus found to be doing things more than a little bit shady, who do you complain to if the same is found in your smart lightbulbs?
Consider also the services you use. Google has long provided a suite of apps that are often free and extremely powerful. With the trade-off that your data is collected and used to show you adverts. If this trade-off doesn’t vibe with you, there are a wealth of others out there to choose from. This is a huge positive to the end-user because being able to pick and choose where you place your allegiance is import not just for you but for the future.
As Fahad digs into above, where you place your purchase affects others. End-users must start to make firm decisions if the companies values don’t align with their own. We are in a world where most things are pretty much equal but still dominated by 3 or 4 huge corporations. If you don’t think a company is doing an excellent job with your data, your TV experience or your selfies, by all means, vote with your wallet and switch! However, consider who you want to give your money to and what it is funding. Who is paying for this investment?