“The relevant versus the new is the fundamental battle of the current age.”*
The newest bright shiny thing captures our attention, dangled before us like the proverbial carrot.
We chase after the newest thing because it’s faster, thinner, prettier, more powerful, has more innovative features, and is altogether better than anything we’ve had before.
But does the newness really make our lives better – not the thing itself, which may indeed, but rather, the quest to have the newest iteration, and to have it first?
The search for newness leads to shallowness; not necessarily of character, though that too can develop, but rather, shallowness of thinking, of striving, of exchanging something of value for something new.
Is the newest iPhone relevant to me if the last generation still meets my needs? This is not a Luddite argument; we put so much emphasis on new features, new bells and whistles, new innovations, without regard to relevancy.
The question, as Dobelli points out, is whether we sacrifice relevance in our single-minded pursuit of newness, of speed, of efficiency – often merely a synonym for apathy.
What is relevance, in this context? It is, simply, usefulness combined with suitability. In our chase after the newest thing, does the item help us make better decisions? make better connections? make us better persons? Those are big questions, but life is a big proposition – too big to be engrossed in minutiae.
And the newest things, which will always be just out of our grasp, are almost always just pieces of minutia. They are mostly shiny, fast, expensive pieces of not much importance.
Dobelli challenges us to look away from the carrot, and evaluate what makes our lives better, and us better. He challenges us to pursue relevancy.
I think he may be right.
*The Art of Thinking Clearly: Better Thinking, Better Decisions” by Rolf Dobelli, published by Sceptre, a division of Hodder & Stoughton, part of the Hachette UK group of publishers, London.