Tech As Self-Expression: No, I don’t want a pink external hard drive

rose gold pink techIn a recent post, Mashable highlighted the “era of rose gold” in all things tech. Indeed, Apple, Samsung and Sony are among the tech companies now offering their products in pink (whatever they may choose to call it).

The article celebrates this fact, pointing out that electronics have “become part of people’s identities”. I agree and think it’s great. If you happen to like pink.

What I am less happy about is the assumption that gender (or race or sexuality or anything else for that matter) has any role to play in the colour of a person’s tech.

A couple of years ago I was looking for a new external hard drive, having filled up the previous one with massive photoshop images I simply couldn’t bear to part with (I am definitely a digital hoarder. Is that a thing?).I went into my local branch of a well-known high street electronics chain – having done my research, I knew what I was looking for and was hoping to have an intelligent conversation with a shop assistant. After I reeled off the specs of the hard drive I was after he stood there expressionless for a while before responding “We have one in pink”.

I am not against the colour pink, mainly because being against any colour out of context is ridiculous. But I would never choose it. Not for my clothes and not for my tech. Especially not the hot pink number I was then presented with.

The irony is that I know people who would be delighted to be shown a pink hard drive and would almost certainly buy it on the spot. But the chance of this happening drops substantially because they are male.

To me, there is nothing wrong with seeing our tech as a form of self expression. It is so much a part of our lives that it absolutely should be. But the other side of that coin is the everyday sexism that comes when someone makes assumptions about those personal choices based on gender.

Girls Toys Aisle PinkThese are the same assumptions that cause toy stores to gender their toy aisles (or the whole floor if you’re Harrods) and encourage parents to paint their son’s bedroom blue. It is also the same assumption that caused the salesperson to think I would be more interested in the colour of my tech than its specs. And that is dangerous.

So although I am somewhat dubious about the advent of the “era of rose gold”, the arrival of personalised and personalisable tech is one I embrace with both arms. I love that tech has become so much a part of people’s lives that it is now as much a form of self expression as a new bag or a haircut. It’s just one more sign that tech has become part of our day-to-day, and that is so exciting.Elspeth's tech

You may not be surprised that my form of self-expression through tech looks slightly different (see right). Although the number of Apple products are pretty damning I think it says a lot about me (including the fact that I’m the sort of over-excited individual who would throw away money on an Apple Watch. I’m OK with that.).



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