Love or Lust? Finding our way between the two can be difficult in life. With personal relationships this can be especially tricky, but it also seems to extend to our personal tech. There are people who absolutely love their devices and there are those who just enjoy their devices for the time they use them. Finding out whether or not we become attached to our devices can be an interesting endeavor that is deeply personal.
Some people use their personal devices, a phone or computer or even smart speaker, every day and it simply exists as a tool for that person. That’s perfectly fine and completely understandable. I don’t get excited about a kitchen knife or my television like I do with my computing devices. So, I understand that some folks just aren’t going to become attached to something they never create a connection to.
However, I think that the original name of “Personal Computer” sounds just right.
I’ve built many PCs over time, owned many laptops, played game consoles, smartphones, smartwatches, and other devices. There are only a few that I can think of that I became so attached to emotionally that getting rid of them was rather difficult.
The first was my very first personally built PC back in the early 2000’s. It was a large, full tower case that was originally a beige box that was fairly mundane. However, I sought to make this thing really cool. I used a Dremel and jigsaw and removed the sheet metal fan grilles and replaced them with some sweet chrome bullseye grilles. They were a nice touch, but there was more. I removed the vast majority of the side panel with said jigsaw and riveted on a plexiglass side panel of my own. I added fans with red LEDs and red cold cathode lights in the case. Topped that off with some red rounded IDE cables and the inside looked awesome. The final piece of the puzzle was painting the entire thing a high gloss red.
It was a masterpiece. Every person I showed it to, even those who weren’t into computers, were amazed at the machine. They thought it looked great and some were even envious. It was mine. Absolutely 100% mine. Nobody else had this case. I was so proud of this thing and decided to name it Big Red after my favorite bubble gum at the time.
I was attached to this machine more than anyone could imagine. It was my creation and my baby. In my life, my wife was first, then my computer, then my family. I enjoyed computers before, but there was something special about this one. I ended up upgrading the parts over time in this case and things were great.
However, there was a limitation: cooling. As parts got faster, they required more cooling to operate properly. Big Red didn’t cut the mustard. It pained me so much to let it go. In fact, I may have pushed out the memory of getting rid of it out of my mind as I don’t recall what happened to it. I loved that case and the computer within because it was always there for me in a bad part of my life and it was unique to me.
Fast forward a couple years after losing Big Red and I’m attending college. I needed a computer that I could rely on and would get the job done for my school work. I was studying programming and networking in school, so a computer was definitely a must. I was using a Surface Pro 3 for a while, but the battery life, heat, and subsequent fan noise was just not working out. If I went from one class to another, I would have to plug it in as my development classes hit the CPU hard. So, I was in need of a replacement.
I thought about getting another Windows laptop, but possibly something with more robust cooling. Ultrabooks were around, but they were not nearly as good as they are now. So, I thought back to the MacBook Pro 13-inch that I purchased a couple years prior and decided that another Mac would be in order. The MacBook Pro was also very loud and very hot and the battery life, while better than the Surface, was not enough for school.
The summer of 2013 brought a product that I immediately lusted after: 2013 MacBook Air. This device offered performance equal to the Surface while offering a claimed 12 hour battery life. I didn’t have the money when it was released, but I thought about that computer a lot over the months. I even had dreams of having it and feeling awesome in class. I had to have that machine. I had my first Apple crush.
2014 went by and I did what I could to get through my classes with my helicopter fans on my Surface and MacBook Pro. I’d have to sit next to the outlets in the classroom, so I had to get there early. I hated this, but did what I could. Then, January of 2015 came along. I received extra money from school and decided that this was my chance. I purchased my dream laptop. An early 2014 MacBook Air. It was amazing. It was plenty fast and MacOS Yosemite ran so well on it. It only had 128gb of SSD storage, so I couldn’t go crazy installing things, but I did purchase a reduced height SD card adapter and put in a 128gb microSD card for storage. I opted for the base model with an i5 and 4gb of ram because of limited funds but it was plenty for MacOS at the time.
I used this computer practically every single day for years to come. I would use it in class, at home, on the couch, at the coffee shop, and it even played movies at night for me to fall asleep to. When you have a computer that is literally telling you bedtime stories, how can you not become attached?
Fast forward a couple more years and things are a bit different. I had gone through a few laptops and upgraded my desktop a few times. Despite all of these new machines, I still held onto my MacBook Air. I briefly let my dad use the Air, and he enjoyed it quite a bit, but ultimately it ended up in my hands again. There was something about this device that just couldn’t leave me.
As I posted previously, I purchased a 2018 iPad Pro 12.9 inch. This tablet has become my favorite mobile device to get things done. However, I still had the MacBook Air. As recently as this week, I was resetting the Air in preparation for giving it away. I have my iMac and my iPad Pro so there wasn’t really any room in my life for it anymore. When I finished the recovery of the machine I was presented with the setup screens. I went through it to get the machine updated before it found a new home. I got to the user setup screen and I stopped. It was like looking into the eyes of a small animal that you were giving away or the look of a girlfriend that you were leaving behind and may never see again. It asked for the Full Name. I knew that it didn’t have a place in my life, but I was struggling with entering anything. I closed the laptop and finished my work day. I spoke to my roommate about the feelings and she said that it’s not that strange and if it gives me that much grief, maybe I shouldn’t get rid fo it. I slept on it that night. I even got to work late because of having terrible sleep, if you can believe that/ I arrived at work, checked my email and other important things, and opened the MacBook Air.
Full Name. Adam Grubbs.
I realized at that point that there was something special about this computer and it belonged with me. I vowed to find a place in my life for it and treat it as well as it’s treated me.
So, I sincerely think that people can become emotionally attached to their devices. There’s something very personal about something that you use and rely on every day of your life for years.
Sometimes moving on is the right choice. Then there are times, not often, when your bond is too strong and you see things out to the end.
Thank you, Big Red. Thank you, MBA. You will live forever in my memory.