Early Adopters, Sound Off

July 13, 2023
Reading Time: 4 minutes
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Last week, our entire team joined Threads on day one. In technology models, you could consider us “early adopters”—the people who jump on a tool or application right away, kinks, errors, and all. We figure it out as we go, watch as more people catch on (or don’t), and hope that most frustrating elements are fixed fast. 

As we played around on Threads, we got to thinking about the other times we’ve been early adopters—and how those tools have remained integral in our lives (or, you know, not). When is jumping on a trend a great idea? And when is it a waste of time? Hard to know, honestly. But here are a few of our team’s experiences…

Lindsey rented clothes (and doesn’t any more).

I think the cat is out of the bag now, but Nuuly is, or at least was, awesome. For $88 a month, you could choose six pieces, wear them, and send them back. When I first started my subscription a few years ago, I rented everything: wedding guest dresses, everyday sweaters, fun outfits to wear to the office, Citizens of Humanity jeans, and more. For a while, those six pieces were integral to my closet. 

The beauty was in the selection. They had tons of inventory, and not that many people trying to rent it. But, slowly, the secret got out, and for a few too many months in a row, none of the good stuff was available when it came time to choose my pieces. The more people that signed up, the worse it seemed to get—and I paused my subscription.

I still do it, on and off, for special occasions or trips, but it’s no longer the wardrobe workhorse it used to be.

Allison’s test turned into an addiction. 

I don’t know how strong your mid-2010s memory is, but in August 2016, Instagram launched a new little tool called Stories. Maybe you’ve heard of it? 

At the time, I was living out of backpack, traveling around the world full-time (yes, it was awesome), and preparing to hit the road for a leg of the trip on behalf of Opportunity International, an incredible nonprofit organization. I already had Instagram (and I was rocking those filters), but my team and I were excited about the “raw, behind-the-scenes” potential of Stories. So we made a deal. I would “story” every day about my travel escapades from the Opportunity account. It was part travelog, part client story, part we-have-no-idea-what-we’re-doing-but-we’re-trying-anyway. And it was so fun.

Fast forward seven years and I’m putting increasingly strict screen restrictions on my phone because I cannot stop scrolling Stories before bed. That “little tool” that I started using the very first week it came out has become ubiquitous to the point of addiction. Who would have thought? 

When it comes to tech, you never know what might happen—some apps hit, some apps flop, and some apps rule our lives—so sometimes it’s fun to just jump in and play. Those early days are the best, anyway—no rules, no strategy, and no big deal if you fail. 

Amanda tried to up her cooking game (and it didn’t work).

It was November 2019, and all I wanted for Christmas was an Our Place pan. I was intrigued by its sleek design, bright color options, and ability to be “nonstick.” Every time I opened Instagram, there it was, showcasing itself and convincing me it was an absolute essential. In addition, it came with a steamer basket, a wooden spatula that could perfectly lay on top of its handle, and a specialized sponge for washing it. I was SOLD—but with an $145 price tag, it left many skeptics wondering if it was really worth it. 

Fast forward to late January 2020, when I finally received my pan. It was everything I ever expected and more. Its smoothness and ceramic finish was beautiful—and way sleeker than my old All Clad, TFAL, and Cuisanart pans. It was also oven safe (up to 450℉). I loved it.

However, the sizzle quickly came to an end when, after a few months, everything was sticking to the pan’s coating. Its sleek exterior was stained and there was no product I could find that could revert it to its base ”spice” color. 

The Our Place pan is still all over Instagram, with collaborations with Selena Gomez and new versions of an improved product. But I’m back to using my older pans since they have kept their integrity through and through. 

Ian wanted to see your face. 

So there I was, a super early adopter of Marco Polo. No, not the game we love playing in the pool (though that game and I do go way back…). I’m talking about the video messaging app that nobody paid attention to when it was released back in 2014. Yeah, that one. But then the pandemic hit, and suddenly everyone was desperate for connection. And guess what? Marco Polo seemed like the perfect solution. Conversational video to the rescue!

I dove right into the app like a champ and invited all my friends. Some chats were livelier than others, but I was the loyal soldier, always there. I mean, I was invested. I started my day with Marco Polo, continued throughout the day, and even sent my final messages as I drifted off to sleep. Talk about dedication.

It worked. I could see my friends, no need for boring Zoom calls, and I actually felt connected. It was like magic, or maybe just really good software development. But then, things changed. I can’t pinpoint the exact day, but at some point, I realized I hadn’t opened the app in days. It happened so subtly, but I was done, now switching my attention back to good old text messages. I had given it too much, too quickly.

Sometimes, you’re an early adopter and your enthusiasm burns hot but fizzles out quickly. Poor Marco Polo, still lurking on my phone, untouched for at least two years now. I guess we had our moment, but like a summer fling, it faded away. So, thanks, Marco Polo, for the memories, we had something special. Maybe one day I’ll remember to uninstall you or check that unwatched message you’ve been emailing me about for the last year.

Allison Kooser

Allison is Chief Storyteller at Swell+Good, where she partners with amazing organizations to help them bring their stories to life. She is an avid traveler, an expert takeout orderer, and a big believer in curiosity and kindness. She tries to learn something new every day, and she reads, writes, and paddleboards more than the average human.
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