New. Few concepts are more powerful, especially in today’s world of digital technology. The stream of new devices, new apps, and new gadgets is as relentless as it is endless. What is new today will be old tomorrow, and tomorrow keeps coming faster and faster. There is no time to rest if you want to keep up with what is new. Don’t blink, or you’ll miss it.
New Changes Perception
A new version, a new model, a new product. The things we own don’t change, but we see them differently in light of what is new. What was once fast, small, and impressive is now slow, cumbersome, and so-so. In the words of Apple’s Phil Schiller:
Isn’t it amazing how something new makes the previous thing instantly look old?
In an instant, your iDevice has lost its luster. It still works as well and looks as good as it always has, but why would you want to keep using it? It’s no longer new.
New Demands Attention
New, new, new. Few adjectives command our attention with more authority. The subject rarely matters. The immediacy demands our time. Aptly named, news is the archetypal example. Seldom is “the news” truly noteworthy or even interesting apart from its timeliness. But we watch, listen, and click because it is new.
Much time is given to what is new. Time is spent learning about new gadgets rather than using the ones we already own. It’s easier to spend our time consuming social media news feeds rather than creating meaningful work. Intentionally allocating time is difficult and disciplined work. It requires the willpower to look away from what is new in order to focus on what is important.
New Cultivates Discontentment
What is new deprives us from enjoying what we already have. Using an old gadget, our thoughts are filled with how much better, faster, and more enjoyable it would be if only we were using a newer one. Gnawing dissatisfaction grows within. What we already have may be what is best, but the prospect of greener pastures prohibits us from realizing it.
The promise of what is new is not a passive message. Advertising tells us how much better life would be if we only had what is new. In the US, we pay lip service to being thankful for what we have, but we’re certainly not content. It’s hard to be happy with what we have when something newer can be had.
Reflections on Newness
Newness is not an end in itself. It is equally faulty to universally embrace or reject based on newness alone. A healthy perspective begins with reflection and ends with balance. Newness has the power to negatively influence our perception, time, and contentment. At the same time, newness gives us hope for improvement and a future better than today.
Perhaps what is new captivates us so powerfully because, deep down, we long to be satisfied by something better than what exists today. A new world, a new life, a new hope. What is new ushers in progress, innovation, and improvement and promises the redemption of what is old, failing, and fading away.