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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 to ensure their continuation.

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. In a 2007 study at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, 77 percent of a group of 1,152 college students said they’d try something that was endorsed by a celebrity.

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 a day or two to consider a potential purchase, will help you make conscientious choices about what you buy.  Dr. Ingrid Greiger, director of counseling at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, suggests asking yourself what’s really essential. Examine your true needs and preferences before buying. “I bought an e-reader,” says Maureen D., a freshman at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. “I thought it would be cheaper and easier to carry [than books], but it turned out to be more trouble than it was worth.”

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.”
  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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