THH: Planned Obsolescence | Teen Ink

THH: Planned Obsolescence

October 9, 2015
By AlaNova ELITE, Naperville, Illinois
AlaNova ELITE, Naperville, Illinois
257 articles 0 photos 326 comments

Favorite Quote:
Dalai Lama said, "There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called YESTERDAY and the other is called TOMORROW, so today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly live..."

With all due respect, most of the stuff around you is junk. Whether it’s the six hundred dollar PC resting smugly on your desk, the shining smart phone on your nightstand, homework from school, or the cup of Starbucks you finished an hour ago, it doesn’t matter. Everything has a planned deadline. It was predetermined that every item aforementioned was to become outdated, outsourced, or inevitably outsmarted, soon. There is a definite end for all of the items we consider staples in the life of a typical millennial.

All of this was probably going through someone’s head when he or she was designing the product itself. Of course they’re going to be bigger, better, and newer in the future. It’s their duty to the company, whatever position they may hold. There’s money to be made while environmentalist hippies tear out their hair and health nuts try to decimate non white meat entrées.

But regardless of what beliefs you may hold concerning the environment and diet, it might be nice to know that as a result of modern commercialized mindset, the stuff that goes through your hands are often a little worthless. Not only due to the sheer mass of their production, but that items nowadays just aren’t meant to last long. Virtually every piece of technology you currently so fervently cling to will be wiped from memory by the time you update your model. Every single plastic wrapping, bag, bottle, spork, case, or plate will spend approximately two minutes with you, and the rest of its eternal life in a putrid landfill. Clothes are sold, worn, washed, and generally tossed in fair time, in the name of fashion. And if I have learned anything from the vicious homework cycle, it’s that 90% of what gets handed out gets handed to the trash. (Or a bonfire. Depending on what class they were from.)

A time ago, the main expendable people had to worry about was food. And the waste created from that presented an entirely different issue, on no scale either comparable to today’s spendthrift wonderland. But while a peasant farmer in the late middle ages probably lived considerably more miserably than you do now, he or she’s prized possessions might have been more prized than yours. Beautiful things came in rare quantities, and were made and fixed by hand. Now, most of the people I know can barely hold thread to a needle.

Food, or lack thereof, was the main thing that never updated or renewed fast enough for pre-modern peoples. Now, everything comes in overwhelming excess. And we have the “happy days” of the ’50s to thank for that.

It might take you a minute to center in on the white collar professionals, neon slogans, and darling housewives; after all, that fuzzy time period seems to occupy the succulent Lana Del Rey niche that elopes WWII and the Vietnam War. But it was then the theme of “planned obsolescence” emerged, firmly changing the way consumerism would ever again be perceived. Products were purposely designed to become quickly obsolete, forcing a consumer to come back and buy more and more. And not only did people suddenly need to buy nice things, but they needed to buy all of them, and all the time. It became socially unforgivable to do much else than keep up with newly christened “household essentials” and upkeep your stock. You simply weren’t acting American otherwise.

A genius move for the slumdogs, but less for anyone else left in the equation. Not only has this converted a staggering amount of the first world into mindless machines, senselessly burning through new products and packaging every minute of every hour, but this has also fostered solid bonds of debt-making habits. Moreover, we’re dumping our trash on everyone else’s head.

Offense…taken. Landfills rage wherever they erupt, like haunted non-organic volcanoes, and our gunk continues to regurgitate endless suffering for the globe in general. Our skies belch with toxic fabricated gases, and white beaches wash up with disgusting remains of marker caps and Fritos chip bags. Birds and fish flop to the ground because they haven’t evolved to be able to digest polluted plastic. Then again, few have. Take that one species Homo sapiens: all over the world, people who struggle daily just to bring dinner home sit amid the sickening stink of decaying discarded junk. Whatever it is we’re doing, we’re doing it wrong.

And the time to break bad habits is here. With world population exploding over our shoulders, it’s never been a better time to cozy up on the three R’s: reuse, reduce, and recycle. No matter who it is you are or where you live, that responsibility can’t leave any of us until this mess is finally, truly cleaned up. And even then, we have the duty to maintain the health of the habitat we have.

Not to mention that it’s much more fun to get creative than waste away what you’ve guiltily accepted you must. Since you don’t. Really, humans have managed to scrape by for the last ten known millenniums of their existence. Let’s make this one count.

The author's comments:

What does "THH" stand for? Good question! It's THE HOLY HITCHHIKE... No, I’m not even religious. The name is Ala Nova, and you have entered the domain of my discussion, thought, and paraphernalia. Enjoy, and let loose your commentary and suggestions below. A new column every Friday!

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