Six years ago, I bought a microwave. Even though it lived for part of that time in storage, after a bit of clean up, it worked, and still works perfectly. I just made breakfast in it this morning.
Nine years ago, I bought a wired, push-button phone (the kind your grandmother might still own with big, lighted buttons). Though it had been repeatedly dropped and otherwise abused throughout its life, it worked perfectly up until the day we cut the landline.
Twelve years ago we bought a Gamecube. I used it the other day to play Metroid Prime.
Four months ago we picked up an Xbox One. Turns out it had a faulty disc drive. Now the wireless controller doesn’t work.
Six months ago I bought a faucet water filter with fancy indicator lights. Yesterday, the lights stopped working.
Nine months ago I bought a new phone. Last week I dropped it just right and the screen broke.
Maybe I’m experiencing a cyclical period of bad luck, but I’m kind of in awe at just how many pieces of electronic equipment that pepper my life have recently, in one way or another, died.
After last week’s incident with the phone, I texted my husband:
15 years of owning and dropping cell phones, and THIS is the one that breaks.
This one being a Galaxy S4 (covered by insurance, thankfully). I had never really been one to take the best care of my phones in the past. They got shoved into bags, dropped (from varying heights) in the rain, and kicked across floors – but never did a single one become completely broken. Yet somehow with the S4, in its expansive, protective case, I found the perfect height and angle at which to drop the phone so that the screen broke. But it wasn’t like the screen shattered into a million pieces. The only visual evidence of abuse was two hairline cracks that appeared in the upper corner of the screen. Well, those and the fact that the screen wouldn’t turn on.
You know what’s a hellish way to spend a weekend? Trying to recover data from a phone with no screen.
Also, do you know how easy it was to obtain another phone? Super easy. File a claim with the insurance company, pay a nominal fee, they send you a brand new phone! Old phone becomes but a memory! It’s great and convenient, without a doubt, but it’s also a little sad, maybe? Should we really be pleased to live in a culture where disposable and replaceable is the norm? I’m not saying that I want to go back to the days when your house’s wood burning stove had to last for a century because your family and your family’s future generations needed it for food and warmth. But those stoves lasted for a century because they were simply built to last. I’m also not saying that I expected any of today’s cell phones to survive to 2020 because the technology in them is practically designed to make them into paperweights after just a few years. (I still have my old Galaxy S from 2010 and even connected to wifi, it’s good for nothing. It even flunks web surfing because of Flash. Okay, okay, I’m sure with a technical tutorial I could figure out how to update the OS. But is it really worth it?) So we recycle the phones and turn them into newer, cheaper phones that will surely crap out or break more spectacularly than those of the previous generation. Where’s the value in that?
If anything, the phone experience has made me much more careful. And like any good paranoid person who’s besotted with further paranoia, I’ve been handling my new phone with kid gloves and have placed it in an “armored” case. This also helps me avoid outside contact even more as I can barely hear my ringtones and notification through it. It’s pretty awesome. And just think of how long the phone will last then if I barely touch it! That’s the ticket to everlasting survival: make your phone last for a century by never using it.