Planned Obsolescence

Few things make me as irrationally angry as Planned Obsolescence. Or perhaps it’s not irrational, but totally rational that it infuriates me so.

Planned Obsolescence is a concept that came about in the 50’s as people were repairing and looking after their possessions so well that companies weren’t making a profit. So they planned in a time when the object would break. Or more recently, when the software updates would stop working on the tech because you need to buy a new phone etc.

If I buy something, that thing is mine and I should be able to edit/alter/amend/repair and just do whatever the bloody hell I like to it! Companies will have you believe that you cannot. Warranties etc. Don’t want to go messing with things you don’t know…

I’ve been thinking about this ever since I got my computer repaired and people were surprised about it. I always was happy to either buy a new one (whatever that ‘one’ might be) or take it to someone else to repair. But now, I’m beginning to rethink that approach.

There’s a lot of power in being able to repair something. I once helped a friend put the chain back on the gears of her bicycle and she was convinced I was some sort of wizard. I then showed her how to oil and clean her chain. My Grandpa taught me how to do this as he was a big believer in repairing what you had (the depression will do that to a man I guess) and so he wanted me to respect and care for my possessions. I was lucky to have that in my life and I so rarely have an opportunity to use it.

I often have opted out of computer repair saying I’m not interested in that skill and that’s partially true, but what is possibly more true is that I find it intimidating. That’s just something I’ve been reflecting on anyway. Computers freak me out as I don’t understand them, but that’s not the fault of the computers!

Then I found this website: ifixit. Ifixit is what I view as a democratic (or possibly even socialist?) website that provides instructional videos and help to repair broken technology to give it a new life. These are not things that should be beyond the everyday person and yet we are often intimidated out of the skills to repair when they used to be so vital.

I also think that the next thing that breaks or stops working of mine I am going to try and repair myself. The other great thing about the internet (besides cat gifs obvs) is actually how nice people are if you ask respectfully about things. Reddit has had a number of subreddits where people have been quite friendly and supportive and provided loads of free advice to me personally. Ifixit has forums where I imagine the same to be true. How much can you find out via google? This challenge would have been totally beyond me even 15 years ago without the support and advice of other people on the internet.

I feel like this is a monumental shift in how I think about my possessions. If I truly believe make do and mend, well then I should have a crack at it myself and not just assume that something is beyond me.

I’m going to a wheeler centre lecture in a few weeks with the ifixit website creator to hear how he speaks about these things. I’ll take notes and report back on any big ideas I learn from the session.

 

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