I get a little grumpy when I’m told it’s time to upgrade. Mobile phones are big upgrade targets, but any other widget or gadget thing is fair game too.

It doesn’t seem to matter if the so called ‘old’ device is fresh off the sales floor, last year’s model, or a durable piece of electronics holding tight after five years of use. Everything, always, needs an upgrade.

We upgrade when stuff still works. We upgrade when flyers promoting hot deals on must-have models hit our inboxes. And we upgrade when our friends boast the latest and greatest doodads with blinking buttons too.

I love this chummy Virgin Mobile brochure. It’s addressed to You, my friend with Carl’s and my name printed throughout.


“Upgrading is super simple. Get hooked up with a hot new smartphone,” says Virgin inside the ad.

Wanna see Carl’s hot phone? My smart *cough* phone sits right beside his.

cell phones

Super hot, right?

Upgrade culture.

Virgin Mobile isn’t the only ‘friend’ who thinks I’m due for an upgrade. My social circle wonders why I’m talkin’ to them on a relic too.

They all wanted to text, Tweet, and Facebook me while we were out for coffee the other day. I just wanted to chat face-to-face without the aid of technology. I lost that conversation, on Twitter.

You’re so vain!

Vanity is (apparently) a big reason to spend the bucks on a boast-worthy upgrade. Virgin spells out your ticket to showmanship in step three.

Virgin’s Vanity: “Start showing off your hot new smartphone.”

You hot show-off, you. So much hot.

Cool curmudgeon?

Sure, you can call me a cranky technophobe for failing to embrace new mobile technology by taking a six-year pass on upgrading my mobile. But you would be wrong.

I love new mobile technology, and I do my best to support it on my blog. In fact, Squawkfox.com supports your handheld device, whether it’s an iPhone, runs Android OS, or is a tablet. I embrace it all.

I just have my reasons for not upgrading to these devices.

Reasons to press the pause button.

Before pulling the trigger on that new upgrade, maybe stop and think.

1. How much are you spending? Swapping up to the latest toy every release can be an expensive endeavor. I guarantee you won’t keep up to corporate release schedules. Companies have the next ‘big thing’ planned before your current model hits the marketplace.

2. Hello, landfill? Are you there, garbage heap? It’s me, the electronic waste upgrader! Our insatiable need to consume more communications devices is bad news for the environment. According to the Electronics Takeback Coalition, 152 million mobile devices were scrapped in 2010 in the U.S. alone, with only 11% of these being recycled (source (PDF)). Is yours stacked onto that heap?

3. Needs vs. wants. Most of us screw up on this one. Is that new gadget an essential tool you can’t live without? Or are you a tool for wanting a silly feature to help you win FarmVille? It’s time to learn about delayed gratification, people.

Delayed Gratification
A delicious lesson in delayed gratification

Learning to wait can be good for your brain and bank account. It all starts with marshmallows.

4. Does it still work? My crazy cell phone still works. It rings when someone calls, and sometimes I answer it. Sure, technology changes fast and old systems are eventually deprecated, but holding off a few releases between upgrades can save you a lot of money over time.

5. Beware of cascading upgrades. Upgrading my pocket camera to a full-on digital SLR seemed a straightforward spend. But then I wanted more hard drive space to accommodate higher resolution pictures. Then my laptop needed *cough* more memory to run better photo programs. And then the cascading effect pissed me off, so I stuck with just the camera. Upgrading one gadget in your technology ecosystem can have a watershed effect, costing you dearly.

So where am I going with this?

I’m skipping out on a mobile upgrade again this year. At this point my old phone is such a cool ‘conversation piece’ that I can’t bear to part with the awesome.

Since I spend most of my days sitting in front of a computer, I’m pretty thrilled when I can turn the beeps and ringers off in favor of some fresh air outside. Freedom from being connected to everyone, all the time, is pretty hot.