Recently we had a keyboard and a coffee machine break in a row in our office. When we tried to get it repaired, the answer was the same: This device is outdated. This sentence belongs to me; they: “This is outdated”, they didn’t want to fix it. However, it had been 1.5 – 2 years since I bought the keyboard. This made me angry and made me think a lot. I did some research and found out that the design is such that if one key fails, the others don’t work and you have to buy a new product. And when you revolt against this, the answer is ready: Buying a new one is only three cents more than having the old one repaired, and you get a new one.
It was a good set-up. Have you ever heard of “planned obsolescence”? The idea was conceived in the 1920s by an executive of an automotive company. Definition: Designing or planning for a product to have a limited lifespan by becoming obsolete or non-functional after a certain period of time. It was first applied in light bulbs. While a light bulb has been burning for 120 years without interruption, something that is technically possible, the average bulb life has been planned and reduced to 1000 hours.
Women’s tights were strong enough to pull an automobile when they were first produced, but nowadays they tear with the stroke of a finger. Those of us who are old enough may remember the slogan “Throw away, throw away, throw away your old socks; Jil is coming” and the concept of “throw away and buy a new one” became a part of our lives in the 70s.
I can hear some of you saying, “It has to be this way, how else will the economy survive?” I think this belief pattern is also imposed on us, this is a separate discussion.
Planned obsolescence can have dire consequences for nature, environmental health and sustainability. We need to raise awareness and fight for this. On the other hand, I am a psychologist and my focus is more on human emotion, thought, behavior and relationships. So that’s how I look at it.
A friend of mine recently told me that his parents were 40 years old. He was on his way to his hometown to celebrate his wedding anniversary. While I was congratulating them and being happy, a scene like this came to my mind. On the plane to Fethiye the previous year, I had seen a couple who were clearly newlyweds and on their honeymoon, and the young lady was wearing a t-shirt with the words “I love my freedom” written on it. I started thinking about the impact of planned obsolescence on human relationships.
40 in future generations. Will there be any couples left to celebrate their wedding anniversary? It is worth some reflection. What do you think?