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Should Every Aspect of our Lives be Modernized?

Is ‘new’ always good? Many aspects of every business will generally revolve around how to make something new, different, and appealing to its consumer. This is important from a business perspective because the best way to interest an audience is to adhere to current or future trends, and apply it to a product to make it appealing and different. The product should seem unique, but at the same time current and affordable so the general population will be able to have access to new trends and technology, and won’t feel a sense of conformity when they are ready to purchase.

A difficult feat to be achieved, however this phenomenon is consistently and successfully attained throughout a variety of industries. That being said, although this cycle of constant modernization is obviously working due to its appeal throughout different markets, is it really necessary, or even really beneficial to the consumer? Planned obsolescence has been a topic of controversy since the late 1950s; the idea that a product is designed to either become obsolete or go out of style to require replacement in a determined amount time. We see this trend in many products we use today, however this wasn’t always the case. Goods and services used to be made to last; an important part of advertising the quality of a product. Today we see quantity and trends, over quality.

Planned obsolescence has proven to be extremely profitable throughout different industries; we see it especially today in the housing market, where homes and even built in appliances are created to have a significantly shorter ‘shelf life’ than its dated predecessors. Another relevant market that is dominated by planned obsolescence is the technology and computing industry; Industry giants such as Apple, Samsung, and IBM create consumer products programmed to be unusable after software updates or obsolete in a matter of years; this forces consumers to continuously repurchase ‘updated’ versions. As a society, it seems that we have accepted and conformed to this shorter life span in our products.

This process can be beneficial to those who can afford it, in that consumers will constantly have access to newer and ‘better’ technologies. However, is this small benefit to the consumer worth the negative personal economic and environmental side effects? The production of technological consumer products, as well as most consumer products will generally have an extremely harmful impact on the environment. If we tried to live our lives in a way where we did not succumb to the pressures or attraction of the newer and better, we could probably save ourselves a lot of money and definitely help out the environment at the same time.

Ran Sommer

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