When it comes to gadgets, I tend to be a late adopter, usually due to a combination of (1) being too cheap to spend money on the newest gizmo and (2) being overwhelmed with the number of options when it comes to gizmos and succumbing to analysis paralysis and putting off the decision. I finally bought a used Xbox (original) on eBay shortly before the X360 was released. I bought myself a shiny new iMac … three years ago. That was also about the time I last purchased a cell phone, a Motorola RAZR which was already outdated. One of these days I want to get a DSLR camera, an iPad, maybe upgrade my computer.
I tell you this to explain that my reasons for not having lots of gadgets isn’t always—or even usually—altruistic. Yes, I’m all for conservation and being green, which gets on the nerves of many of my Midwestern neighbors who don’t understand why I would choose to ride my bike when I have a perfectly good minivan. Let’s face it—environmental concerns aren’t really the reason I don’t own an X360 yet.
But maybe they should be.
Annie Leonard of the Story of Stuff Project has a new cartoon on the Story of Electronics. The Story of Stuff isn’t all environemental, but it talks about the lifecycle of products—where things come from and where they go, how companies lower prices by externalizing costs (i.e., passing costs along to the cheap labor and exploited nations where we get resources). It’s a thought-provoking story and if you haven’t seen the original I encourage you to visit the site and check it out. Watch it with your kids!
For those of us who deal with gadget lust, though, this new entry is particularly significant. Yeah, maybe it’ll make you feel a little guilty but that’s a good thing from time to time, right? While I think the problems Leonard raises don’t have any easy solutions, it is certainly worth considering and starting a conversation about these issues.
Or, at the very least, you can use this next time your teenagers ask why you won’t buy them new cell phones.