People have been searching for the Fountain of Youth for ever, the magic elixir that will keep them perpetually young. I hate to disappoint them, there really is no such thing. Youth comes from within, from your soul, your heart and your mind. If you want to be young, you will be. Conversely, you want to be old, your body and brain will act as such. Some people are born as old souls, like my middle daughter. Even as a baby, she would stare at you with a look that said, I already know everything about you. Me, I’m a young soul, a kid at heart.
I will not say whether being an old soul or new soul is better or worse. It is what it is. You just have to be comfortable with whatever soul you have been given. And what I wanted to talk about here was how to refresh that young soul. Many times, people lose touch with their inner spirit, whether it be old or new. Since I don’t understand old souls, I simply cannot say how to refresh them, or even if they need to be refreshed. I can so, however, that young souls can be recharged, re-energized and revitalized. Children epitomize the young soul, even if some are old souls at heart. Children in general are inquisitive, enjoy toys, and simply “like playing with things.” I just asked my youngest daughter, Sally, who is six, why she likes toys. Her answer was simple “because they are fun to play with.” It is this “fun factor” that we often lose as we get older.
So as a young soul that may have an aging body, how do you keep yourself youthful or, heaven forbid, regain your youth? It varies from person to person. I have found my “fountain of youth” though…gadgets. When I get a new device, I embark on a new voyage of discovery. There is a strong attraction to novelty, the unknown and newness that drives people to explore. For me, I feel this every time I unbox a new device. I enjoy exploring every aspect of a gadget, to understand how it works, why it was designed the way it was, and what it can be used for apart from just the obvious.
The funny thing is, kids are born pure, it is only through the acquisition of knowledge that they become jaded, influenced and corrupted. But I believe that the toy appeal remains persistent. For some, it evolves into being utilitarian (e.g., a car is a transportation device). For others, toys become a way to feel the excitement of youth again.
Preparing for “Santa”
Even to this day, I get excited when “special occasion” days roll around like Christmas or Birthdays. I love giving gadgets to my kids to see their eyes light up with excitement. And I believe that I feel and share that same energy when I receive a new gadget to review, when a new product is launched or when I receive a techy gift. It is that chance to explore something new. Sometimes it is hard to compare technology gifts with other types of gifts like clothes.
Let’s take the iPad as an example. Over several months, Apple built up the aura around this device with many of its features and functionality shrouded in obscurity. When the day finally arrived, for many it was one of these magical, kid-like moments. And, I felt like that kid who didn’t get the killer toy for Christmas. I spent hours reading about it prior to its release and then hours reading and hearing about it from people who had gotten one. I was green with envy because I simply couldn’t afford to get one. So I was “that kid” who didn’t get the toy of the season!
But I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I launched into a campaign much the way a child does prior to a “gifting” event. Children are simply amazing at marketing to you about getting a new toy, and I must admit, I do a similar type of “campaign” with my wife any time there is a high-value gadget that I “must have.” From the subtle hints to showing commercials of the product in question, my kids and I follow the same strategy. Sometimes our efforts work, and other times they don’t. With the iPad though, I knew there was a snowballs chance in “the opposite of heaven” (the way my kids say it) of me getting one.
Thus I was forced to turn to a different strategy, one that I have tried a few times before, but never had had positive results from. I tried to enter an iPad giveaway on Twitter. But, as I embarked on this journey, I reminded myself, nobody ever wins these types of things…so why would I?
I have definitely had both positive (and negative) experiences with giveaways, on the giving end. I know that they are heated and the chances of winning are extremely slim…sort of like my daughter ever having the chance of meeting iCarly face to face. But I figured it was worth a shot. So I did a search on Twitter for “iPad giveaway” and found a few sites that were doing it. Most of them have the same instructions: follow the company and then retweet a message. It’s a pretty simple process…but with thousands of people doing it and every time that you retweet a giveaway, your chances of winning get worse.
But what the heck, a “kid” can dream, right?
The Waiting Game
So one of the sites that was having an iPad giveaway was PicksThatMove.com, a Canadian “penny-stock trading” firm that provides financial news, opinions, analysis and other market content. They had over 20,000 twitter followers (I later recommended to them that they stay away from the auto-follow build up services), so I thought that I would have little luck in winning.
After waiting for a few days, I was proven wrong. I received a direct message via Twitter that I had won 1 of 5 iPads that they were giving away. All that I had to do was friend them on Facebook (which seemed a bit odd at the time). But just getting that winning notification got the kid side of me going wild inside! Over the past 2 weeks, I started pestering them for details on shipment and delivery dates, to the point of me probably completely pissing them off to no end (sorry Picks That Move).
Then the wrinkles started. Since they are a Canadian firm, there was a difficulty in fulfilling the iPad from outside of the US. I started flinging suggestions at them for how they might be able to get around it including:
- Have the online Apple store ship it
- Send an Apple Gift Card for the amount of the iPad
- Get someone in the US to buy and ship it
As it turns out, Apple is very restrictive in their store policies, so the folks at Picks That Move had to get creative. They decided to travel to New York City (for a business meeting) and then later purchase and fulfill from there directly. It was an extra effort that I didn’t expect.
But then they went silent…and I started to worry. I started to have questions about the legitimacy of the giveaway as there are many scams out on the Internet and I was beginning to think that this was simply a publicity stunt and I was just a pawn in the game. The kid (and adult) in me started to worry. I began crafting a story in my head on how I would expose a sham and try to ruin their reputation. But then I realized that action would be counter-productive, so I simply decided wait for a long as humanly possible (or kid-ly possible) with fingers crossed.
The culmination of the waiting is the unwrapping of the present and the excitement of playing with something new. This is a topic complete unto itself which I won’t even begin to go into here. But part of the reason I write product reviews of new gadgets is to have that unboxing or unwrapping feeling again and again.
For every person who enjoys technology, a gadget offer new opportunities, new experiences and new possibilities. It is almost addictive in nature. Of course, I speak from the perspective of someone who gets a “charge” from getting a new device. My wife, on the other hand, would yawn, shift in her seat and turn the page of her (gasp) physical book at the mention of some new type of gadget.
We all love presents, whether they are electronic or not. The surprise of the moment keeps us young. As we rip off wrapping paper or pull the cover off of a box, adrenaline surges through our veins, rendering us youthful yet one more time. Is that what is the fountain of youth? The energy that pulses through us as we explore something unknown and new?
When I received the new iPad that I had won, it was hard to stop and take a picture of it still in the box. I wanted to take it out and start playing immediately, but the adult in side of me slowed my actions down and made me slightly more mature (or so I thought) about my actions. But now, after playing with my new “toy” for a few days, I interrupt my wife to show her a new feature and get the ooohs and aaahs from my kids as a sort of validation that I’m once again young again.
HTD says: Give a person a fish and they’ll eat for a day, teach them how to fish and they will eat for a lifetime. But give them a gadget to catch that fish and you will see them instantly transform into a kid again!