By Henry McRandall
As bad as things are economically for the vast majority of people in the “economically advanced” western world, it is our fetishes for newness and consumerism that are making things much worse.
We have become so inescapably dependent on so many consumer electronic devices in our everyday lives that most of us are running on a treadmill just trying to keep up.
It seems that every device – whether it’s the iPod or the iPad or the smartphone – has a new product generation almost every year. (Talk about built-in obsolescence!) And, of course, for maximum connectivity and maximum peer approval, we must all update every year.
While it’s just one of many reasons why almost every household requires multiple incomes just to remain viable, it is a phenomenon that really contributes very little to our ultimate quality of life while contributing very largely to the cost of living.
This rampant electronic frenzy is, of course, just part and parcel of the mindless consumerism that has gripped our collective minds after years and years of being exposed to hundreds or even thousands of ads every day, all extolling the materialistic “good life” we all must have.
While all human beings deserve to be free from want – to be assured of food, shelter, clothing, health care, education, mobility, etc. and a wide range of inviolable human rights – it is certainly not self-evident that mindless material acquisition makes us all happier.
Is it really necessary to have a new iPod and a new iPad and a new smartphone every year?
Is it really necessary to just accumulate more and more “things” that we don’t really need and may possibly never use?
And is it really necessary for the mega-rich manufacturers of all these marvellous technological gadgets and gimmicks to produce new, more advanced generations of their products just about every year? Couldn’t they just produce a slew of new apps every few years and let their products live a normal lifespan?
The world is certainly long overdue for a massive downward redistribution of wealth from the greedy, corrupt elite – the millionaires and billionaires – to the struggling masses – the poor, the working class and the middle class – even a drastic overhaul of the distribution of wealth and income would not justify this unabated electronic consumermania.
Abiding the law of the technological jungle
By Henry McRandall