Now that back-to-school time has rolled around again, parents and students are facing some tough decisions. Will an iPad or Chromebook suffice for all of their academic needs? Do they need a high-powered laptop to help them be as productive as possible? How do they fight the desperate notion that everything they do to better themselves is just a futile gesture meant to amuse the powers that be who are safely ensconced in their towers and palatial estates? Whether it’s writing documents, complicated math formulas, designing that project, or becoming a YouTuber who creates videos that finally tell the TRUTH about Trump, Clinton, and Bernie, parents and older students have to decide if an iPad, Chromebook, or laptop is right for you or your child’s needs.

Like so many of our choices in these dark times, buying a device can be complicated, mainly because their screens can show the high-definition images of children trapped in cages, or icebergs melting, or men who are literal mobsters deciding if you will be allowed the medicine to live.

Anyway, some things to keep in mind:

  • A lightweight, ergonomically pleasing iPad is more comfortable to throw down in that angry shock you sometimes feel when you realize, yet again, that this is who we are now, and maybe might have always been. It’s hard to get stuff done on web-based apps, however.
  • A Chromebook can do about 95% of what a laptop can do, and now has access to Android apps. So there’s that. That’s something right? They can be found pretty cheap. Let’s not talk about how tax cuts are destroying our schools or how rising interest rates help the rich and bankrupt the middle class or dark money in politics.
  • A more cumbersome and expensive workhorse laptop is best for getting serious work done. What this means is that you can use the video editing and graphic design software to make multi-media manifestos that will probably be seen by four people, but at least those people will know what’s truly going on. At least four people will actually, truly know.
  • Complete and utter submission to the idea that world is rapidly disintegrating in front of our eyes and all of this effort we make to try to improve ourselves and those who come after us will be swallowed up in a fire because a ridiculous man has psychotic thumbs.

Sidenote: I’m sorry I am having trouble writing this because the fan on my Microsoft Surface Pro sounds like the machines in one of the factories my grandfather worked in, and he might have been one of those people who worried about their jobs and would have voted for a crazy person for some reassurance, but he’s dead now, and we’ll never know. Don’t buy anything using Windows. Windows is terrible.

Here are the necessary parameters for buying the perfect device for your needs:

  • The truth is many students could probably use just an iPad if their professors were more flexible and understanding of the modern world. Documents do not necessarily, in this day, need to conform to an MLA/APA based set of frameworks. Will you tell the survivors left in SECTION 27 that everything is gone and that they are just the last remnants of a dead world, but my margins and my citations were perfect?
  • What if your school’s curriculum centers around STEM-based and design-process initiatives? That’s great! You go to a fantastic school. You should probably get a high-powered laptop. Just keep working on these complicated and exciting things and never, ever open the browser, or go any apps that have anything to do with the outside world. Especially Twitter. For Godsakes, never, ever Twitter.

You could probably use one of these machines to write an analysis, or make a video analysis, about the trope of what school — college especially — used to mean. The acquisition of skills, the deepening of knowledge, understanding of your place in the social contract, and finally, the transition from childhood to adult life, the move from innocence to experience. That would be amazingly interesting, and probably poignant these days. We are all experienced now.

Whichever machine you decide on, or however you choose to cling to a world spinning off its axis, remember to splurge for the protection plan. They’re usually worth it. The whole world needs a protection plan.