Monday, December 22, 2003

The Bash Revisited

This the rumor/report underlying this little story on Apple's iPod problem subjected Xkot to some severe pummeling from angry Apple fans.
Battery And Assault

However, I come not to praise (or condemn) iPods, but to dig into some of the other issues this article brings up, like disposability.

I'm one of those old people who remember when electronics were expensive and fancy and nifty neato wondergadgets. Throwing away an electronic item goes against the grain with me. It seems wrong. How can I throw away something so complicated, so marvelous, so expensive? Oh, I've gotten used to it in the last few years when I was finally convinced to chuck aging Walkmans, deaf answering machines, unloved cell phones and assorted other spark powered creations into the trash. I do it, but it rankles. I know that, yes, there's always something newer, shinier, better, faster, more powerful -- superlative away, I'll wait -- just down the pike, but sometimes I just don't want to expand my capabilities. Sometimes I am happy with what I have.

Sounds so much like I'm passing into an old generation, doesn't it? Of course, as electronic devices have dropped in price, it gets easier and easier to toss them out when they break. And relative values have changed. The $85 Walkman tape player I got as a highschool graduation gift (bought at the Navy Exchange because it was significantly cheaper) is not nearly the high function radio/tape player I got from Wal-Mart a couple years ago for about $20. But, that damn Walkman, which doesn't really work, took much more effort to toss out than the cheaper replacement did when it finally stopped working. If the replacement had cost $85 (or more, given the passage of time and lack of access to Navy base shopping) I'd have been fixing that puppy.

So I can feel the anquish and the anger of Casey Neistat. I'm in sympathy with those people who can't face the inevitable death of their iPods. I'm still not going to buy one, but I have sympathy.

When did we stop fixing things? When did repairing something become a matter of diminishing returns? Why is it easier, cheaper, and simply more possible to throw something away and replace it rather than repair and update it? And is that perception real? Is it REALLY easier and cheaper to toss something than to repair it? How did we become convinced of the validity of disposability? The change in perception has taken a whole host of other things with it -- skils and abilities that were once fairly common are now considered unusual and rare. We admire people who can cook a good but basic meal. We seek out friends who can sew, who know how to change the oil in a car or tighten a bicycle chain. We look upon them as valuable but...weird. Who does that sorrt of old fashioned thing anymore?

No comments: