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Jealousy is a strong emotion—one that doesn’t always get talked about. It’s also a powerful weapon in the tech-marketing arsenal: there’s even a new laptop named “Envy.”

“Comparison is the thief of joy,” Theodore Roosevelt once said. While it’s tempting to get the latest or greatest, you can choose to opt out.

Origins of Envy

According to Sarah Hill and David Buss, evolutionary psychologists at The University of Texas at Austin, humans feel jealousy because our ancestors needed mates with desirable attributes.

It’s not just evolution; it’s the people we see using high-end tech devices and the promise of new and exciting features with every glossy upgrade.

Gadgets are marketed through commercials, endorsements, product placements in TV and movies, and even on bus shelters. It can start to feel like a new gizmo will upgrade your life.

Power Down

Recognizing tech envy, and taking time to consider a purchase, will help you make conscientious choices about what you buy. CU-Boulder student Angela S. makes tech decisions based strictly off of need. “If I feel like my phone or tech is getting really slow, worn down, or out-of-date, then I will buy the newest and latest tech and use that for a few years.”

Here are some benefits of avoiding the urge to upgrade:

  1. Save cash. You might not need something new. Jerah D., a junior at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, New Jersey, has an older phone, but says, “I can still take ‘selfies!’”
  2. Protect the environment. Consider what happens to your old devices. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, only 8 percent of used phones are recycled.
  3. Stay on trend. Vintage is in. Amazon.com reports that sales of vinyl records-not MP3s-have risen 745 percent since 2008.
  4. Be savvy. Companies often make only minor changes between “generations.” As CU-Boulder student Chris. M. points out, “Whenever one of my friends gets the newest tech, I offset my desire to buy one by comparing their modifications to see if it is really worth it to buy one: most of the time there are only small differences.”
  5. Be efficient. Focus on one or two items that serve more than one purpose. For example, buy one smartphone instead of a camera, phone, MP3 player, calendar, and e-reader.

Learn to feel content without every new device. As they say, happiness is ultimately not found through objects.

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