Bill, I’ve asked this question myself-and still don’t understand the utter obsession with a damn telephone!! I’ve read accounts recently of almost mass hysteria over the iPhone5. Will people be committing crimes of desperation when the #6 comes out? And it will come out, you can be sure of that! But when you add the cost of the phone itself to your voice and data plan, it’s going to cost you at least $1,640 over two years — and that’s for the absolute rock-bottom plan on AT&T, the cheapest iPhone carrier in the U.S., with pay-as-you-go texting. (AT&T is also the most expensive carrier; its unlimited plan will set you back more than $5,500 over two years!) That’s right, $5,500 over 2 years! Not counting ‘accessories’ and ‘apps’. What’s that, you say? You can only afford to make the minimum payments on your credit cards? What? You can’t afford braces for Suzy or a winter coat for Bobby? You NEED it? OH, I see!
I personally don’t care what folks do with their money, but I do care about the effect all our gadgets are having on the Earth’s resources. Did you ever stop to think about what happens to all those iPhone 3, 3GS, 4 and 4Ss now deemed out of date? While there are many recycling programs available, research shows that most smartphones are not efficiently thrown out or properly recycled. Apple’s iPhones are far from the only culprit — most every smartphone, hard drive, hybrid car, satellite, MRI machine and GPS, along with dozens of other tech gadgets, are made from Rare Earth Elements. Now, I’m not a Luddite- I’m writing this blog on my home computer after all, and I own a cell phone too. (“My phone isn’t smart, but it works rea-ul good” she said, in her best facetious, hillbilly-style voice)
Are people lining up to buy new smart phones, fashions, and so on, to help their self esteems? I hope not, here’s why: The only time I remember wanting something so bad that I was close to hysteria, was in the 6th grade, 1965. I wanted a Villager brand skirt and sweater, (with matching knee socks of course!) so bad I was willing to do just about anything to get it.
And when I finally did, I still didn’t have any friends. “Imagine that!”, she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. No doubt my dear grandmother remade the eventually-outcast-woolen-wear into some kind of hot water bottle cover or felted wool slippers or something useful. Unfortunately, our grandmothers aren’t able to remake our e-wastes into repurposed items. However, children in China ARE being taught how to stand on a chair while they dip circuit boards and chips in acid to recover small amounts of gold, while older kids are taught to dismantle our ‘old’ techno-gadgets to get to other ‘precious’ metals inside. Would that ever happen in the good old USA? Surely not.
So, how smart is it really, if that new phone is putting you into debtor’s prison, if it’s not going to bring new friends into your life, if it’s contributing to the world’s e-waste and using up her natural resources at an alarming rate, and if kids are being exposed to hazardous and toxic wastes? Please think about it at least. And call me, I could use a friend 😉
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