Be Techno-Savvy with your Techno-Trash
As of today, I refuse to upgrade my old iphone 4. I disagree; my personal technological use is not political or is it? Unfortunately and embarrassing to admit sometimes I have acted in harmony with the interests of status rather than a matter of principles. Let me explain. First of all I didn’t want a cell phone to begin with. That was 4 years ago and it was a matter of principle. Everyone had one and I didn’t want to succumb to the pressures of a material society. It wasn’t a necessity. I was determined to could get along in the world without it. I have a computer closet in our spare room and it was taking on a life of its own. However as my children acquired their own cell phones they refused to use a land line to check in as they had been trained since the days of leaving the house on their own. So, lo and behold my girls bought me a cell phone for Christmas. “Mom, the only way we will stay connected is by text. We aren’t going to call or use a landline. That’s what the cells are for. You’re old school, so give up and just use a cell.” I was forced to give in to the humans that possessed more of my spirit than I cared to admit. “Fine”, I grumbled. Exactly one year later, my husband comes home with 2 new iphone 4’s. UGH!! “I don’t want a new cell, I just got used to this one!” “C’mon honey, get with the times, that cell phone is outdated not to mention you don’t have data.” “What? I’ve only had it for a year and what the heck is data?” Then he said we have a new contract that allows us to upgrade our cells every two years for free. (Hmmm, free, not sure about that.) This time I didn’t even have a choice as he already changed everything over and my year old cell phone wasn’t going to work anymore. This was 2011. From 2011 to 2013, I witnessed the loosing, cracking, dropping in toilets, not to mention the onslaught of upgrades to keep up with the newest releases. I have a landfill of techno-trash in my own kitchen drawer. Certainly, not as large as the illegal secret dumping in third world countries, but for a kitchen drawer, close enough. However the biggest tragedy with the phones was the thefts. As soon as someone in the house got the newest release, within a week it was stolen. It was ridiculous. I couldn’t believe it. I even encountered a theft of my husbands iphone 4S and then the thief wanted to sell it back to us!!! It was then that I declared to everyone in the house, “I am not upgrading my crappy iphone 4 until it breaks down. I don’t care what kind of deal they give me. No one wants to steal an old iphone. I am not upgrading my personal technology to keep up with the latest just to turn around and have it stolen. I refuse to worry about and hide my iphone every time I use it in public. Take that family!”
Watching the documentary on Planned Obsolescence solidified the comments I made to my family. When my iphone 4 breaks down, I am not upgrading to the latest release, I am getting an older or used cell. I will not succumb to the material society and let them dictate my personal technological use. I will not let cell phone companies force me to contribute to the billions of techno-trash being dumped in someone’s precious land, river and backyard. In my own small way, I want take back some control and make my own decisions that are based on principles and are not politically motivated by the Planned Obsolescence.
The “light bulb conspiracy” is not the plotting of an idea against a person, although that’s what it sounds like. It was a group of people trying to preserve their interests by purposely forcing the consumer to renew a product with a planned date of expire. Decided by an international Cartel called Phoebus, the idea was to develop a bulb with a shortened life span in order to remain profitable. If the light bulb needed to be replaced more often, it would sustain the company by increasing the demand, thereby increasing the profit. Not so different today with many of the items that are purchased for digital use. Many of the products we buy for digital use cannot be repaired thus making the consumer a slave to the producers of these products. In the documentary about the “light bulb conspiracy” we follow a young man on his quest to find a fix for his printer. As he takes the time to search for an answer, we see his persistence to make this printer work by not giving into the Planned Obsolescence of the printer. He finally discovers a program that resets the counter on the printer and it works perfectly. This is the type of thing that companies don’t want us to do. Companies rely on the fact that consumers are busy and not tech-savvy enough to repair a product thus sending them out to buy the same or better product. Companies know that we live in a disposable society and are delighted with the fact that we can buy bigger and better. As consumers we need to stay informed about our digital usage before our planet is one huge techno-trash site.