"Individuals work hard mostly because they want to show off to others."
Don't get me wrong and I will be the first to admit that I was and still am an Apple fan girl. I own Apple stock and own a few Apple products. I agree that Apple has been innovative and has changed the way we interact and think of technology. In the past, I usually was one of those people that watched the live updates on the release of Apple products. This time not so much. I read it after the fact and one thing that kept popping into my mind was the words "planned obsolescence."
What is "planned obsolescence"? It is a policy of producing goods that rapidly become obsolete due to changes in design. This is the core of all technology products. Companies have to grow, innovate, release the newest and latest things, but at what cost? How many of us will jump at the chance to upgrade to the latest device when we still have perfectly good phones in our pockets? Sure we can say we will recycle our devices. Sure we will return it back to the phone provider. Sure, we can feel like it's not going to waste, but it is.
The trouble with all of this new technology is that it make us want things we never knew we even wanted in the first place. Why is my current headphones no longer good and cool enough anymore? Is it because it has strings attached to it? Isn't that the way they've always been? When we upgrade our devices, we don't normally think about where it ends up. For many of us, some of these devices remain stored in drawers until one day we see them and chuck them in the garbage. This creates a harmful cycle of putting plastic and chemicals back into our planet. We have to start thinking about what really happens to our stuff after we are done with them. The world is flat at this point. People who may have wanted your old stuff no longer need it because they can now afford it themselves so where does the rest of the stuff go?
The euphoria of getting some new or being the first kid on the block to have the latest device gets upended pretty quickly by the next big thing. If you chase this all of your life, you will never win. Don't succumb to it. It's all marketing, it's all hype. Buy what you need. The book Spent by Geoffrey Miller has a lot of good insights into the psychology of consumerism.
...basic survival goods are cheap, whereas narcissistic self-stimulation and social display products are expensive. Living doesn't cost much, but showing off does.
...all ads effectively have two audiences: potential buyers and potential product viewers who will credit the product owners with various desirable traits. The ad viewer himself need not believe the brand has any logical or statistical link to the aspirational trait...simply that the other ad viewers from his social circle will perceive such a link
Here's a reminder from the Story of Stuff of how this all came about.
Today, I am even more determined than ever to keep my current phone until it is no longer usable. There's always going to be the next best thing. We have to be careful that we don't succumb to that need for consumption, otherwise, we risk our planet and our well being.
Update: Another year later with Apple's announcement on the new iPhone 8, I still feel the same about running to get the latest version. While I'm always impressed by the latest updates and innovation coming from Apple, we really need to step back and see how much of this results in major waste. eWaste is a big problem and without proper disposal procedures and no ownership from manufacturers, chemicals and other materials are making it into our soil and water systems.