We all have problems in life. Some of us are overweight, depressed, or tired all the time. Some of us lack creative inspiration, skills, or outlets for our work. Some of us lack motivation, willpower, and strength to take action in our lives.
Many of us feel that technology is the savior. If we only had that one kitchen appliance, we can finally become a great cook. If we only had that one camera, we could fully realize our potential in photography. If we only had that one lens, we would be more creative with our photography. If we only had that one GoreTex jacket, we could be a more adventurous backpacker. If we only had that one smartphone, laptop, or tool— we could be more productive, happy, and optimized.
I’m totally guilty of this myself. I always blame my tools and technology – never myself.
When I lack the inspiration or focus to write, I think I need a new laptop, iPad with keyboard, or some other writing contraption.
When I lack the motivation to make photos, I tell myself if I had a new camera or lens, I would suddenly become more “motivated” to take photos (never true).
That one app isn’t going to motivate you to do more work. That laptop won’t make you more creative or productive. That smartphone won’t revolutionize your life (sorry Apple).
Why do we always blame our lack of technology and tools for our inadequacies— and not ourselves?
I think a lot of us (myself included) blame technology— because marketing and advertising tells us so. By not having the newest iPhone or Macbook Pro, advertising tells us that we can’t achieve our potential. All these camera review sites and blogs stir a sense of dissatisfaction in ourselves and our gear— that if we had more megapixels, less noise, and faster autofocus— we would take better photos and be more creative.
I also feel that we are always constantly comparing our technology with others. It sucks not having the newest digital gizmo— when all of your friends have one. Social media doesn’t help— people are always showing off their shit online, as well as celebrities, rappers, and other famous people. We always feel that we don’t have enough, because we’re comparing ourselves to people who have more things than us (rather than realizing that we have a lot more stuff than people poorer than us).
The mistake we make is that we don’t realize that every 6 months or year, our technology will always become outdated. And whenever we buy the newest whatever, we think it will be new, fast, and sexy forever.
So whenever you buy any new piece of technology, under-estimate its impact in your life. Meaning, realize that whenever you buy the newest iPhone, the first week or two will be awesome, but sooner or later you’ll get “used to it” and revert to normal behavior. The same goes with buying a new digital camera— no matter how exciting your new camera is, you will lose your inspiration/motivation after a few weeks.
The secret is to be grateful for what we have, and only upgrade when we need to upgrade. Does your laptop take a few minutes to boot, constantly crash, and doesn’t run your applications? Time for an upgrade. Does your camera not turn on sometimes, randomly turn off, or perhaps have sensor issues? Time to upgrade or buy something new.
So I’m not saying never to buy new things or new technology— but don’t buy new things for the sake of buying new things. And furthermore, not to blame our tools or technology for not doing the creative work that we were born for.
Let us also consider— can we do with the old technology or equipment we already have? Some of the most ingenious breakthrough have happened because of the lack of technology people had— rather than the abundance of technology they’ve had.
Some photographers can only afford an iPhone, and as a result have mastered it and have made beautiful images. I reckon there are more creative smartphone photographers than “pro” photographers with thousands of dollars worth of equipment. Owning an expensive laptop won’t make a better writer or blogger – I reckon someone can write as well on a Chromebook when compared to a MacBook Pro. It is the quality of thoughts that matters, not the tool.
Of course having the right tool and technology does make life easier. But let us learn how to do the best with what we have, and not complain that we don’t have the “best.” Because even if you have the “best” – you will never be satisfied. Let’s aim for “good enough.”
About the Author
Eric Kim is a street photographer and photography teacher currently based in Hanoi, Vietnam. His life’s mission is to produce as much “Open Source Photography” to make photography education accessible to all. You can see more of his work on his website, and find him on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. This article was also published here and shared with permission.