Thursday, April 10, 2008

Combatting Perceived Obscolescence

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Wow, I'm posting very late tonight. It was such a beautiful day, and I spent much of it outside. But I didn't want the day to pass without finishing the discussion I started yesterday about perceived obsolescence

I've got this cell phone. It's really a pain in the butt. It's one of the first Chocolate models - Cherry Chocolate to be exact, and I got it when my cell phone plan allowed me to upgrade my phone for next to nothing. There was nothing wrong with my old cell phone, except that it was old. It had no camera. It didn't look cool. The Cherry Chocolate - it looks cool. Honestly, that was it's biggest selling point. 

So I traded in my perfectly good, useful, but boring phone for one that has a mind of its own. It calls people indiscriminately. It's very touch sensitive when I don't want it to be, but I have to touch the send button ten times, pound down on it actually, when I want to make a call. Oh, and although it has call waiting, there is actually no way to answer the call waiting. The feature doesn't work. 

The perceived obsolescence of my old phone led me to get this piece of junk phone. And now I'm stuck with it. Why? Because I refuse to get a new phone. I'm trying to buy less stuff, trying to be more wise about the stuff I do buy, and trying to turn my back on mindless consumerism. I think that maybe if I force myself to suffer with this phone, I'll think twice about getting rid of something completely useful just because I need the newer model.

Like my mini van that hardly ever leaves the driveway. Sometimes, I think it would be nice to have a new mini van with a built in DVD player and those seats that turn around so the kids can face a table in the center of the van. But one look at my crummy phone makes me think straight.

I don't think however that forcing myself to live with this sometimes useless phone is the best answer to combatting perceived obsolescence. So how do we combat this concept that causes us to create waste and pollution?

Here are few simple ideas:
  • Buy with the long term in mind. Whether it's fashion, furniture, electronics or automobiles, don't go for what is trendy. Go for what is made well, what you like, and what is the best you can afford. 
  • If yours isn't the latest and greatest get all zen about it. So what? Let it go. I have an older iPod nano. It doesn't have video on it. It does however play music and podcasts wonderfully. If I didn't know the new nanos played video, would I care about video? No. Do I really want to watch video on that tiny of a screen anyway? No. 
  • Don't care about the Joneses. You can never keep up anyway. 
These aren't earth shattering ideas. They're just simple common sense. 

How do you combat perceived obsolescence? 

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Lorie said...

I thought it was interesting that after reading this post last night, there was an article in USA Weekend today about recycling electronic waste -

Robin Shreeves said...

Lorie - Thanks for the link.