Techno trash and the lightbulb conspiracy are two issues that are not being given enough media attention and, therefore, public concern in society today. Collectively as a society, we have been brainwashed by advances in technology into believing that the newest innovation is “bigger and better” – or as is usually the case – more portable, thinner, lighter, faster and more user friendly. Personal technologies are not personal, or atleast haven’t been since the 2nd or 3rd generation of innovations and the increased influx of old technologies into landfills. Our materialistic consumer choices have much larger chain effect consequences than we care to stop and think about as we are too focused on how amazing this new $800 piece of plastic and chip will be.
Planned obsolescence, or the lightbulb conspiracy, is a method started in the 1920s by manufacturer’s to shorten the lives of products in order to increase the frequency of demand for them. All in all, it is consumerism as society has become a growth economy where we live to buy and own the newest, shiniest innovation on the technological market in order to part of the craze and “up to date.” This is even truer in society today, even though that 8-track was totally awesome, with the latest generation in phones and other devices. The latest number and letter in iPhones, Samsung Galaxies, HTC’s, iPods, iPads etc is all a marketing and economic ploy to make us believe the iPhone 6GS will be the ‘the phone that makes life and connecting with loved ones as easy as can be.’ Apple’s planned obsolescence had one of its most telling moments with the introduction of the iPhone 5 when the hype around its latest innovation revealed to be only because of finger recognition and a longer screen – there was a lot of disbelief and consumer’s seemed to be smart for only 5 minutes as they realised this new $700 phone was not worth feeling like an FBI agent with fingerprint scanning and having an unnecessarily longer screen (as if it isn’t hard to fit into our pockets already!). The way Apple seemed to recover from this almost public revolution was to introduce the 5S and 5C, basically the same phone but in different colours – so once again, wave something shiny in front of the public and they shall buy!
I’m sure we’ve all stopped to think about what this means for the environment – when we continuously are replacing old technologies with new ones – if you haven’t then… tsk tsk. Our use, disuse and disposal over the years has led to special drop off plants being implemented specifically for old technologies. The environmental devastation caused by this technological hyper consumption is causing even more progressive landfill and toxic damage on the eco system, not to mention the damage caused when individuals can’t be bothered to make the trip to the special drop off stations and dump their old technologies into their regular waste. That is the other problem with society today, some can’t be bothered to make this special trip after the clutter and annoyance of living around that drawer of old phones and mp3 players gets annoying and they simply throw it away with everything else. Recycling outdated technologies is a very good practice but is it possible to truly recycle the billions of old technologies? What happens to those that aren’t and what does that mean for the environment? A plan and concern needs to be given attention to this before we move into the double digits of new technology innovations or else we are killing our environment even faster than we think.