The other day I was chatting with a friend who just upgraded his phone. I’ve asked him why did he buy a new phone if the other was still good enough. He said that the new one has a better camera, but he just wanted to have the newest model. I hear that a lot, from friends, acquaintances or just people in my network.
The increase in offering of electronic products has converted most consumers in superficial buyers. Most people don’t understand the technical specs of the products they buy, but somehow seem compelled to keep with the lates technologies. There’s a lot of marketing black magic going on which is very effective in bewitching people to think they need a faster CPU, but I feel people lost their sense of pragmatism. What was once essential for survival has now become the most docile of the senses.
I also feel that most of this superficial consumerism if fuelled by a declining appreciation for craftsmanship and engineering. People seem to think that all products are made by a machine and assembled automatically with the press of a button. As such they are more careless with their belongings, when they can always get a new one around the corner.
Just because automation exists doesn’t mean that there is less passion and work invested in building a product. Even if it’s built by machines, there are armies of very intelligent people who put together everything from building the assembly robots, to sourcing the right materials, to building the components, to coming up with the best designs, …. (go for a walk) …. to writing the software running on it, just so we can do something as trivial as reading the news or watching funny cat videos on the toilet seat in the morning.
While most products are built with planned obsolesce in mind, I think giving more appreciation to the work invested in building your laptop or phone etc. would extend the lifespan of electronics by a significant margin. Taking a moment to perceive the different levels of work put into your devices would make your experience with it even more meaningful.
We used to take pride in quality products which can last a lifetime. What happened to that? Now it seems that some of us feel ashamed if our phone is one or two releases behind.
The most sustainable product is the one you already own.
P.S.: I’m writing this article on a 2013 MacBook Pro. I even use it for coding, and guess what? It works just fine. Getting a newer model won’t make me a better blogger or developer.