I spotted this poster (on an A4 piece of paper which was stuck to the wall of a corridor, I might add) in the entrance to the library of a local educational establishment. It tickled me…largely because the intended target group for the message are unlikely to be reading said poster at all…this is what happens when someone designing posters doesn’t understand people very well…
How Long Does Yours Last? Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com
I’ve always been the sort of person to look after the things I own. I don’t like to buy things for the sake of it as a rule…and certainly not in the annual cycle that technology companies would have us believe is what we need. After several years of ownership I was thinking recently how many items I have wherein the battery seems to be starting to fade away…mobile phone, electric toothbrush, electric razor, hair clippers etc.
It occurred to me how disappointing it feels when something dies on you, and how much of our lives now seem to be spent on charge! It’s bizarre when you think about it…we have to continually have something charging. I asked Oral B about whether you can replace the battery for the toothbrush and was told that you can’t because they are a sealed unit and that I should just leave it on charge all of the time…does that seem ridiculous to anyone else?
I saw recently that Dyson have stopped developing corded vacuum cleaners so I guess batteries are very much seen as the future rather than the past…but they don’t quite seem sufficient to do what is needed long term…and with electric cars, they just don’t have the range to be entirely practical either…yet. It is a strange place we find ourselves in.
I’m having a break from the blog for a bit…not sure how many of you out there in the ether look forward to my posts but I thought I’d just let you know. 🙂
Following on from my last post, it got me thinking about the fact that, OK, you’ve got your shiny new upgraded item (whatever it might be), and guess what…it’s got errors or bugs in it!
After the slightly strange thing whereby we buy something we don’t actually need, the real con on the part of the sellers is that it often doesn’t actually do what it is supposed to. While this isn’t usually a mechanical fault, they knowingly release items which have bugs in them, and wait for the customers to report the faults so they can be fixed!
With the advent of the internet, it has seemingly made it acceptable for products (primarily software) to be sold which are basically faulty…”But it’s OK because we’ll patch it later” seems to be the mantra.
Think about iOS iterations, think about MS Windows, think about updates to console game software. Granted some of these patches are a necessary security requirement but so many are because people are basically flogging shoddy goods which have been rushed to market to meet the latest upgrade cycle…the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was a real classic example for all of the wrong reasons. Imagine if they sold cars that had faulty brakes…oh, that’s right, Toyota did that one already!
And yet we tolerate it as acceptable because having updates is better than having faults. We con ourselves and we allow ourselves to be conned.
I’ve been thinking of late about how we are seemingly all sucked in – in some way, shape or form – to the cycle of upgrading technology.
The latest mobile phone, the latest annual iteration of a computer game, the latest remake of a classic film, the latest TV…whatever it is, we are sold a new item which replaces something which is not even close to being obsolete, and often that new item doesn’t even do anything markedly different to that which it is replacing and is simply a set of new gimmicks. Is this the ultimate con trick of these companies who make new technologies? If they were actually being deceitful about their items, I’d say yes, but we allow ourselves to just go along and spend our hard-earned cash on something which is probably 95% identical to the last one in its functionality and gives us only fleeting satisfaction (and maybe an opportunity to gloat at someone who doesn’t have it – like they even care). Are we conning ourselves?
I’ve inherited my last two mobile phones. At one point I went into a store to look at the latest iPhone and asked the shop assistant about the different models available. He asked me what I needed the phone for and I said “to make calls and send texts”, to which he honestly replied, “why don’t you just get an older one?”. Refreshing.
When you upgrade your mobile phone (as an example, and assuming you just buy the same brand), the first thing you do is set it up exactly like the old one, and iTunes even does this for you! There isn’t really much fun in it or much reason to explore. It doesn’t seem to make much sense if it isn’t replacing obsolescence, except for those companies who want to keep making lots of money so they can keep designing small improvements to roll out next time. Perhaps it is simply the milking of brand loyalty by large corporations.
It is hard to understand how we can get so much gratification from this, and yet somehow we do, me included with certain products. Surely it would make sense for us to upgrade less often and actually feel like we are getting something that is actually much better (maybe even life-changing) instead of just mildly different? We’d have the added benefit of saving some of the earth’s scarce resources if we upgraded any consumable items less often, which would be an added bonus, although at least older phones can be dismantled by machine and the valuable components re-used.
Something for us all to think about.
Following on from my recent post about buying Palm Oil free products, I was thinking about the choices we make as consumers, and the irresponsible actions of businesses.
Why do we need plastic straws in our drinks when there are sustainable alternatives?
Why do we need Christmas Crackers? These invariably go into the bin on the same day!
Why do we need little plastic “toys” or suchlike in cereal packets (or indeed Christmas Crackers)? It seems absurd that these add any value to anyone.
Why do some food items come packaged in both a box AND a bag?
In the digital age, do we really need to send paper birthday (and other occasion) cards around the world?
When was the last time you refused free plastic bags? We don’t need them most of the time, nor should we want them.
As a consumer, I feel underinformed at times about what the most sustainable option is for my purchase (often you don’t even get a choice)…as a business, I suspect they just want to make as much money as possible by hooking people in, but maybe we can alter the behaviour of businesses if we begin to shift away from cheap wasteful gimmicks and analyse “traditions”.
I recently stayed in an hotel which provided a little bag encouraging you to take any toiletries away with you. The sentiment is great as opposed to leaving partially used items in the room that must often just go in a bin, so I applaud it in that regard, but why is a bag required? Why not just a small sign or a note in a guestbook? As a concept it seems up there with humans producing a paper leaflet about saving trees. Scenic Hotels – this is not an ECO bag…it is a bag that did not need to be made at all…you have wasted resources in an effort not to waste resources. THINK!
One final musing on NZ TV, if you’ll permit me, and that is the extensive presence of the infomercial.
A lack of big business advertising clearly leaves a space for someone to want to try to flog what often appear to be naff products that you really don’t need. Who knew that you needed something to peel a clove of garlic? How about something to stand on that vibrates and supposedly helps you become thin and healthy? How about a nutrition extractor (aka a fancy blender)? Perhaps a military-style torch is the answer to your prayers? Maybe you could be tempted by an 8-shapes-in-1 pillow? Or how about the infomercial to end them all…life insurance – perhaps they realised that watching them makes you consider taking your own!
You name it, and if it’s really quite poor and cast off from abroad, then they’ll advertise it for several minutes at a time…and all without telling you the price. Boredom guaranteed. Who buys all this rubbish?
It is no wonder that On Demand TV seems so popular here in NZ, to the extent that they don’t seem to care too much about scheduling in the first place…great to have a retreat where you can dodge the majority of adverts.
And just one more thing, the frequency of adverts increases during a programme. If you are watching a movie then you often have no adverts for the first half hour, but by the end you are blessed with their presence every ten minutes or so. Annoying indeed.