I don’t like cars. The proposed bailout of the big three car manufacturers is utterly repugnant to me as a taxpayer, a consumer, a technologist, and simply because I think cars are a waste. To be fair, I like what cars can do, as far as transporting people and stuff relatively quickly and safely… my opposition is rooted in what I see as wasted potential and extortionist costs.
Planned obsolescence is a marketing strategy that attempts to force consumers to buy more stuff, specifically to replace stuff they already had. It’s at the heart of why I loathe the car industry, and cars as a product of their waste.
Cars are made of thousands of parts, and several of those are designed specifically to decay and break. That’s how the repair industry stays afloat, and why new cars keep getting built. (Conspicuous consumption can do only so much.) The blasted things are built to fail. We have materials technology capable of building cars that run clean, cheap, safely and for decades, but that would cost the manufacturers in the long run, so they don’t make them. The American Way is “consume and discard”… a mentality that is paying impressive dividends lately.
Software is similar, with some companies going so far as to intentionally omit backwards compatibility, despite being very easy to incorporate. It’s been argued before that the game industry is as shallow as it is because we don’t learn from our mistakes. We can’t, since games more than a few years old aren’t playable on new machines, and old machines break and can’t be fixed or replaced easily. We’re stuck in a treadmill of our own design, churning out happy little reruns for zombie lemming gamers. *coughEAcough*
What about people?
We certainly don’t last forever. We decay, fall apart, run down. (I hate dentistry, too, but that’s another rant.) But who is the consumer that replaces us, and with what? (No tangents here on trophy spouses, nope, not here.) Is God consuming us and discarding us when He’s done with the experiment? Hmm… I think not. Rather, I think that we are given time on this world to accomplish certain things, and to learn certain things. In a way, we are our own consumer in that context. We are given limited time so that we can appreciate choices and consequences, and learn how to think and decide. We have to learn to sieze the day and act, rather than be acted upon. We’re literally on the clock.
So how do we spend our precious, limited time, and what do we get out of it?
Appreciate what you have, because it may be gone tomorrow. Cherish your time, and be grateful for your possessions. Reduce, reuse, recycle, because you cannot keep consuming without producing something of value to offset it. Above all, let those you love know that they are valuable to you, even if it’s just by giving them your time. We’ve heard this before. It’s still good advice. That’s why we keep hearing it.
It feels good to turn something as repugnant as a concept borne in greed to the light side, even I had to run a tangent to get there. I know, bad little consumer lemming.