Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
This week, the TV in my house reached a point that was nearly nine months after the end of its warranty period. My husband and I were watching a film on DVD when the TV popped and the screen turned black—stone cold dead. A technician told us we were lucky the TV lasted so long. The smart phones my husband and I bought wandered past their update deadlines and started acting strangely. The IT specialist at the college where I used to work warned me not to expect my laptop to survive longer than about three years. Why do electronics wear out when they have no moving parts? To be honest, I have no answer, but I’m cynical.
Some of us can remember when planned obsolescence was a hot topic. People were appalled that any artisan or company would build a product with its eventual failure as a part of the design. We were appalled that a business would inflate profit by forcing consumers to buy again and again. “What happened to pride in workmanship?” we asked. “What happened to doing your best for your customers?”
But new topics and new concepts grow familiar. People stopped being surprised that products were deliberately made in such a way first, to break after a “respectable” period of time and then, to discourage consumers from attempting to fix problems. Repair shops went out of business. “Just get a new one; it’s cheaper” is common advice. These days we expect our products to break. Everything has an expiration date.
Cars come out in new models that have to look different so status-seekers feel a need to have the latest. Electronics change constantly—not always in ways that are necessary but always in ways that are advertised as “improved.” The illusion that newer is inevitably better is precious to advertising—even if many of the new products are inferior to the ones they replace.
As I sat re-entering information in my smart phone calendar (that was accidentally cleared when I transferred to a new phone), I couldn’t help thinking about obsolescence. In a way, human bodies are designed to fail, too. With proper maintenance, a body of someone with good genes can continue to function well after many friends are gone. But no one makes it out of here alive. No matter how well you take care of yourself, you’re eventually recalled.
Some believe we make a pact with the Divine Powers before we arrive on Earth, choosing not only the people with whom we’ll share our journey, but also the point of the trip and how it will end. Many will tell you how your spirit moves on after your body is done—eventually being assigned a different body. Whatever you believe, the fact that we share so-called design flaws with washing machines has to be humbling. Do your best before your warranty is up. Who knows if you’re going to be granted entry into a newer model—a You.2s.