Planned Obsolescence Part 4: The light bulb conspiracy

I grew up in a culture where it was unheard of to buy a new pair of sneakers every time your old ones got too dirty or a little worn. In that culture, new shoes were washed frequently to keep them looking new and old ones were repaired by the teeming hordes of cobblers on every street corner. This was a culture that created an industry of repairmen; cobblers, electricians (the kind that would fix all sorts of broken gadgets, not just install new fixtures), dress fitters and auto repairmen.

In 2000, I was introduced to a different culture, one that was based on spending, and chasing after the newest versions and iterations of gadgets. In this culture, it was not sufficient to have a working product, one needed the fastest processor on the market, the most powerful CPUs and the crispiest graphics display. This was capitalism personified, one built on the free market forces, on consumerism. However, through researching for this series of articles, I discovered that these so-called free market forces are not free at all, but are based on carefully planned obsolescence.

This first video below shows how the market forces are manufactured through planned obsolescence and why longer-lasting electronics are unthinkable in this throw-away culture.

This second video tells the story of electronics in our consumer societies and the devastating impact this has on our planet.

Personally, I do not think either one of these two cultures I have mentioned is neccessarily "better" than the other, each has its won merits and demerits, and I believe the balance is somewhere in-between. However, as a gadget lover, my favourite gadgets are those that have lasted longest, those that have memories written into every dent and every playlist stored on them.

At the end of the day, the sad truth is that I am also guilty of fuelling this consumerism, I also crave the latest and the newest. However, considering we live on a planet with limited resources, I think it is time we all started thinking a lot more about maintaining our gadgets (or shoes for that matter) better so we can enjoy them a little longer.


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