I could do a bit of research and find out the actual answer to my question from a marketing or product development standpoint, but that isn’t my objective. (If you know, please do share.) I’m more interested in this question in an esoteric manner; we seem to have started this idea with products, quietly and slowly (washers and dryers used to be built for 15-20 years, now 8 seems to be the norm yet they cost comparatively more!) and the idea has spread to other parts of business and life.
Now progress is different than planned obsolescence – I learned to type on an old manual typewriter (my pinky fingers will never forget the force exerted to depress those keys was nearly beyond their power) and am thrilled to now use Word on my laptop to create. That is progress, new inventions to improve upon old process. Calligraphy and quill pens are now lovely in living history settings and used for artistic expression, but we will stick with our gel pens, thanks.
And as for applying the concept of obsolete to people, well skills might get a little stale, but not a person. A person who has learned how to navigate a changing world always has something to offer. We might have to slow down our hurry just a bit, sit down and have a chat, and then cull through the conversation for the good stuff. But there will be good stuff; solid knowledge on making a life, earning a living, solving problems.
Older people might not know their way around all of these devices, but should your GPS break most would be capable and happy to show you how to read a map. To tell you a story or two about the area where you find yourself. How it once was, how it came to be what you see before you. Sometimes this means a place quite different as the story progresses, but since nature is cyclical sometimes it means returning to something similar to what it was before.
One of the answers to my question might be, ‘that’s progress’. Hmmm. It seems to be more about pure commerce to me, which is what it is; but then we should carefully consider what parts of the world to apply the concept.
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