Even as I said the words, they shocked me. My laptop is my primary tool for doing business. It’s a big investment and I take good care of it. I have tricked it out and upgraded it to handle all the things I ask it to do.
But less than five years later, it’s already obsolete?
And what about our mobile phones? The model I have now has more storage and computing power than a laptop from ten years ago. And yet this to is a replaceable bit of technology, meant to be casually upgraded after only a couple of years.
My disgust with my cavalier attitude and dismay at planned obsolescence was on my mind as I took a walk through Wicker Park (a Chicago neighborhood) yesterday.
This was a part of the city built well over 100 years ago, and a surprising number of those original buildings are still in active use.
And what buildings they are. Leaded glass, wrought iron details, countless shades of brick… Even the factories were so beautiful they converted them to apartments.
They were built to last. They were built to be beautiful AND useful. There was nothing “throwaway” about them. Maintenance was part of the package, not an excuse to upgrade.
It’s an insidious idea in our culture – replace rather than restore, upgrade rather than make do, toss rather than hand down. I have bought into this thinking too much myself, looking for inexpensive “good enough for now” furnishings and clothes rather than buying items that will last longer and look better over time.
At the end of my walk I decided to see if I can’t get my laptop fixed and get a few more years out of it. Perhaps I’ll use it to build something beautiful. Perhaps I’ll use it to build something that will last.
All photos taken by me, with an iPhone.