Planned Obsolescence

June 25, 2011

Yes, I am still alive. Just took a mini vacation in my brain. It’s pretty in there.

Anyway, I recently watched a documentary called Pyramids of Waste (2010), AKA The Lightbulb Conspiracy. I will link the video below (it’s under an hour long).

I don’t know whether to be pissed off or resigned by the movies message. In short, many / most consumer goods are built with a specific lifespan that is determined by the manufacturer. For instance, when mass production of lightbulbs first began, the average bulb lasted 2500 hours. However, a coalition of these manufacturers came together and decided to lower the life to just 1000 hours. They could, at worse, have the same production costs per unit but greatly increase the consumer’s purchases. Pretty nifty…for them.

There are other examples in the movie but this is a good place to start. Basically, the global consumer is being sold inferior products so that they will have no choice but to purchase those items over and over again. For most items, you don’t even have a choice to purchase a superior, albeit more expensive item. So, in the end, leadership at major corporations actually have their engineers make their products worse so they can sell more. I realize this is nothing new but when you think about it, the prolific numbers of merchandise that fall into this category is staggering. Greed, greed, and more fu**ing greed.

(To be fair, some items that are not disposable should be. Dildo’s, for instance. They should be one and done. You know the way spaghetti stains your Tupperware even though you wash it over and over? It’s just like a dildo. You can clean it however many times you want but that tuna smell is not going away…ever).

However, the counter argument is reasonable. If people bought items that lasted, say 20 years, wouldn’t manufacturing go straight into the toilet? Even if you sold those items at a premium, you would have a hard time holding down manufacturing costs and profits would certainly suffer. And, after all, what business is NOT in it for the money? Our love fest with consumption has driven the world economy for a long, long time. Fortunately, we are suckers for good marketing so this addiction is as strong as ever. If you build it, iPad 77, they will buy it. We are the very dickheads who bought “pet rocks” and “mood rings” by the millions. And if I see another one of those rubber wrist bands I am going to shit my pants and then throw it at the offender. We have a disease and big business has the cure.

What to do? Which side is right? I guess as long as we keep buying crap that we don’t need, someone will sell it to us. And if we keep throwing away perfectly goods items to get the newer, better version, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Still, this world isn’t going to get any bigger and this unbelievable rate of consumption is going to continue to take its toll on the environment. Don’t buy anything and we go straight into a depression. Or, keep buying inferior things and accept that you are going to get fu**ed, and fu**ed hard by The Man.

Personally, I am going to stay naked and live in a cardboard box by the freeway. Fu** you, you capitalist thugs. Yeah, I said it. Take your new whatever and shove it up your ass. I ain’t buying. (Except I am totally going to get one of those 4G phone thingies. They sound amazing). TL

Bloodsucking Big Business Douche Monkeys