Techno Trash

In regards to technology, the choices we make have a much larger repercussion beyond our personal use. For example, when ridding of my own technological devices, I try to bring them to collection centers that claim recycle them. I personally feel I am doing the right thing by doing so, but do I do my research, and find out what really happens though? No. After watching The Lightbulb Conspiracy Theory documentary, I learned that our e-waste is being dumped in other parts of the world, particularly third-world countries; we are ruining their environments with our e-waste, or what I see as dumping our problems onto innocent others.

If e-waste is not visible we do not think about it, nor do we worry about it, and this is a problem.  For example when reading the article Excavating the Video-Game Industry’s Past, I learned about video games being dumped in a New Mexico landfill because of overproduction. Would I have of heard about this if it was not a required reading for this course? Probably not, nor would I question to myself as to why a company, or other companies would produce so many products knowing that there will be overproduction, resulting in waste; waste that cannot be ridded of in an environmentally friendly way. Or another example from the article Power, Pollution and the Internet article where I learned that databases only use 6 to 12 percent of the electricity while the rest of the energy is used for idling.  Does this make any sense? No, but is this information pushed out there by mass media for society to ingest? No. When it comes to economic growth, it is not to be discussed; the environment does not matter.

Through the documentary The Lightbulb Conspiracy Theory it is learned that the lightbulb conspiracy is a company’s goal to design products that have a limited time of usability; this can also be called planned obsolescence. Despite the technologies available to make the best, and the longest lasting products, companies take an alternative route because products that do not last stimulate demand by consumers, increasing economic growth.

What surprised me the most is that planned obsolescence was happening in the early 1900s with the production of the light bulb (note the name of the theory). Light bulbs that could last for 2500 hours were being reduced to only lasting for 1000 hours; the less hours the light bulb could run, the higher the demand. It was noted in the film though that a light bulb was created that could last 100,000 hours! Sadly though this light bulb along with others (that had long lifespans), never reached the general market. Contemporary digital culture is very much the same; the product you bought won’t last long, and as soon as you buy a new product, there is something already out there, or being produced that is so called better, repeating the cycle.

This cycle results in silent destruction of our environment.  As stated in the documentary though, the environment runs in a sustainable cycle, and if industry could do the same, society could greatly reduce it’s ecological footprint. With the continued greed though, I don’t see a bright future for the environment.


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