Last night after putting Silas down to sleep for the first part of the evening, Steve gave me a play-by-play of his (very long) afternoon task of getting a new cell phone activated. A couple of nights ago the screen of his "old" phone started acting wonky: flashing on and off and randomly dialing people in his contact list. This has happened once before and Steve was able to find the parts he needed online, crack the phone open (a herculean task, really) and fix it himself. But, now that his phone is so "old" that they don't even make them any more, he had to replace the whole thing.
I've put "old" in quotation marks above because, by the standards of the cell phone industry, it really was. Three years is an eternity. But by every other measure, three years is such a small blip of time. That we readily accept certain things will be replaced on an ever-shorter basis is so frustrating. Whether it's cell phones or textbooks or toasters, making things that aren't meant to last benefits no one except for corporate fat cats and hurts us all as our landfills are stuffed to the brim with still-usable items and resources are depleted to make new, new, new.
In many ways we choose to opt out of this vicious cycle. We repair what we can, make do without, or buy used. But some things, like a working cell phone, truly are necessities (not for me, but for Steve in his line of work). But, it would be nice if the onus to purchase those items responsibly and to keep them working wasn't completely on us, ya know?
Part of my intense drive to learn new things, like knitting and sewing and the like, is that the population of people who can actually "do" is rapidly declining and I see a real danger of centuries-worth of knowledge dying with them. The percentage of Silas' generation who will go into professions like watchmaking is probably nil, but I still want to live in a world where there are watchmakers.
Above, Silas holds my very first cell phone, which I got almost 10 years ago. It doesn't text or take pictures. It really is just a phone. I wonder what they would say if I took it in and tried to activate it.