I’m without my laptop today. It’s been giving me a real headache recently, slow as molasses, freezing up just as I’m in the middle of keying a serious thought, and being an all-round problem. I took it into the Best Buy Geek Squad today. The thing is probably six or seven years old. Conventional wisdom tells me that I should replace it, but I really don’t wish to spend money on another laptop right now. I’ve got a friend, a computer geek, who has several computers eight, nine years old. He tells me they work just fine, and that I shouldn’t be too quick to replace computers on the (thought-to-be-wise) three to four-year cycle. Of course, that’s easy for him to say, he can simply rebuild a computer whenever he sees fit.
There’s something to be said for old stuff. I’ve got suits and shoes that I’ve had for ages. Since I’m not a stickler for what’s new and hot in the fashion world, old clothes serve me sufficiently. Think about it, old stuff had the stamina to hang around for a long time, so it must have an inherit quality that gives it the right to be around a little while longer. After all, this fast-food, micro-waving culture in which we live today just wants to throw things away as soon as the shine starts to wear off.
Being sixty-six years old, I can remember a time when televisions were taken to a TV repair shop. This was a place you had to lug that heavy, cathode tube devise to, and leave it there for several days until the repairman could get around to fixing it. Now, if you had one of the fancy console model TV sets, which also served as a piece of fine furniture, crafted to esthetically add a touch of glamor to a room, you had to have the TV repairman come to your home. He would come with all of his tools and thing-a-ma-jigs needed to bring life back to that black and white window to the world.
Old stuff used to be a regular part of the landscape. Things like shoes, dungarees (AKA Levis), high-ticket household appliances, and innumerable tools and other staples necessary for living, were a part of life. My grandfather’s barn was full of old tools and various farm equipment; much of it looking as though it was manufactured in the latter part of the nineteenth century. He was a firm believer in the old adage, “wastes not want not.” At some point between the middle of the nineteen sixties and the end of the twentieth century, there was a transition to a society where durability became less of quality to be added into products. Built-in obsolescence became the most important quality. You buy it, it breaks, and you go buy another one. Of course, don’t forget the important “extra warranty”, which costs extra. In the old days, we didn’t need an extra warranty; better quality just seemed to have been part and parcel of the purchase.
Yeah, there’s something to be said for old stuff, the most important thing is it saves you money.