Saturday, May 25, 2013
I recently, and luckily only briefly, lost the Nokia mobile phone that I was given in Kenya six years ago. I was devastated, not just because of the sentimental value, but because I like my stuff to last.
The phone was held together with sticky tape, it was hard to make out the numbers on the keys, and I wouldn't describe it as "smart" in any way, shape or form. But it was functional. I could send text messages and make and receive calls. After all, isn't that what mobile phones are supposed to be about?
Now, I'll admit it. I'm the sort of person who hangs on to things, and becomes attached, whether it's to old friends, old songs, old furniture, or gifts given to me twenty years ago. Which is why I get so upset when people try to convince me to upgrade my phone, get a new bike, or suggest to me that my beloved and reliable car won't pass rego this year.
I find this attitude challenging on a couple of fronts. Firstly, I'm offended on behalf of my "old stuff". My 21 year old car, treated with care by me and my mechanic, continues year after year to serve me well for getting from A to B, and almost never breaks down in public. And my bicycle doesn't just have the vintage look that's so hip these days. It actually is vintage. A friend gave it to me a few years back after it had been sitting in her yard for decades un-used. With the help of friends at Bicycle Garden in Marrickville, I installed a new set of brakes and put a bit of grease on the chain. Now it's as good as new. But I also get offended because I oppose the throw-away society. As soon as something doesn't work anymore we upgrade, whereas in my grandfather's day, people simply fixed stuff and kept using it. The cost to the environment of manufacturing and shipping new cars is believed to be greater than the benefits of the fuel efficiency that is often used as the excuse.
While I have a soft spot for my "old stuff", I do realise that eventually, I will have to reluctantly upgrade. I've already been given a smart phone, and have begun using it to check facebook or map out a journey on the run. And, using mobile "check-in" while still anxiously waiting for the airport train might have been the difference between catching and missing a flight.And I'm told it's more energy efficient to just use a small mobile devise as opposed to turning my entire computer on. One day it might be good to get a slightly newer bike that's a bit lighter to lug around and easier to ride and eventually the car will die and I will have to look at alternative options. But until then, this luddite will persistently continue using the old stuff that still works.