As I was walking down the street (technically north, so maybe up?) about two minutes ago (though likely hours or days ago by the time you read this) I saw a discarded microwave. No big deal, right? Thing is, this microwave looked old. Like, grew up riding penny-farthings old. Or hipster. This microwave had clearly seen some shit. It reminded me of the old Panasonic Genius we had for years. We would’ve gotten a decade out if that thing, easily. By the time we retired it, it wasn’t the most powerful household nuke around, but it was still carrying its weight. I bought a microwave two years ago. I’m not convinced it’ll last another one. I remember my parents’ first coffee machine. They loved the fucking thing. It was noisy enough to teach me to accept (tolerate? Deal with? Endure?) mornings, but it made a great cappuccino. I used to do my own fluffy hot chocolates (which Dad dubbed the “chococcino”), so I learned to love the thing too. More expensive and effective options were released, but as far as my Dad was concerned, it still made a damn fine cup of coffee (even if it did rattle constantly and the handle fell off if not gripped just so). They got over 20 years out of that machine. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was higher on the family member hierarchy than I was. I couldn’t make a decent cuppa.
I often contemplate how disposable our society has become. We progress, upgrade and outgrow the past with a voracious hunger. The new iPhone comes in rose gold? Hold the phone! Wait, ditch the phone, get a new one. People are replacing powerful technology as often as they change their sheets (please don’t judge my terrible hygiene) and it’s as absurd as it is understandable. We’re so often told not only what we need, but what we deserve. We should have the quality of life we desire and quality is defined by what we have not what we do. If temptation doesn’t work on us, fear is the next great motivator. How can you be everything you want to be if you don’t look the part? Oh Christ, do I sound like a teenager ranting against the evils of capitalism? I swear I’m going somewhere.
The world has changed to a place where holding on to the past seems unsustainable. Evolve or become obsolete. We don’t know how to take care of things any more, because that’s not part of the sales pitch. Use it until it’s refuse. Discard, acquire. I’m saying this from a place of experience, because I do the same thing. I wish I had the ability to maintain anything, but I’m part of a generation with very few practical skills. If something breaks, the thought of nursing it back to health seems like all too much work. I don’t know how to repair a vacuum. My sartorial skills are limited to small stitches along seams. If my microwave broke I’d resort to cannibalism in under an hour. Time is such a commodity and if I don’t know what to do with a product, the ordeal of bringing it in to a specialist then forking out 70% of the initial price seems more costly than buying a new one. Hell, I can order it from my rose gold phone with a few clicks (jokes. My phone is clunky as shit), why would I expend the effort?
The answer really is that value is a fluid concept and has changed with the passing years. Time means everything. It moves too fast and it’s something you just can’t buy. Money comes and goes. Time is finite. Everything ages at a rapid pace and modern life seems like a struggle to out outrun it. If it seems like I’m making this into an undue crisis, it’s entirely self-perpetuated. I’m the one with a problem, manifesting my own fears into this absurd societal view. I’m afraid of living in a disposable reality. Afraid that I’ll cease sticking with things if they seem too much to deal with. Afraid that I’ll become so obsessed with getting everything done that I’ll forget to make memories along the way. I’m afraid that I’ll mistake quantity for quality and my life will be poorer for it. I’m afraid that maybe I’m the disposable one and I just don’t know it. Am I building anything to last? Am I heading anywhere with purpose? Or will I end up discarded once my worth has diminished?
To be honest, I think I’m just mopey because I for real shit my pants today. I gambled on a fart and lost. Senility has already struck.