Modern Technology and Our Consumerist Society

consumerist societyWhen we think about modern technology we often equate it to consumer culture and our overly consumerist society. This is a big problem in my opinion because it seems that in order for their to be technological progress, there has to be a driving force that promotes that progress. That force is consumerism. While there are certainly many not-for-profit scientific institutions and universities around that world that contribute immensely to technological and medical advances, The majority of innovations in technology tend to come from corporations looking to sell products.

Consequently, humanities developments in technology stem primarily from financial motivations of businesses rather than purely desire for improving human society.

To me, the most important advances we need to make are not about nonsense devices that help us lose ourselves more in egotistic social media, but products that focus on improving our life style, taking care of our health and solving real world problems, like the environment for example. Scientific study, electric cars, eReaders, water purification devices, clean energy, fitness trackers and advances in battery technologies are among the most important areas we should focus on.

When I hear people moan about how their smartphone is running a bit slow and they NEED a new phone to the point where they are sickened by their ageing handset, I really find it more than a little disgusting. A genuine first world problem of our consumerist society. The PR and manipulative marketing of tech companies encourages rampant consumerism, – desire, consume and replace, over and over again.

It’s a trap we all continue to keep falling for in our consumerist society. Devices and products that are designed to fail and slow down over time will propagate unhealthy levels of consumerism where we can never be happy. We just have to have the latest tablet, smartphone, smartwatch or whatever thing we are told we need to keep up with joneses.

Apple’s removal of the ability to upgrade the RAM on the 2014 Mac Mini is a microcosm of this. Lots of manufacturers are now beginning to eliminate the user upgrade and maintenance potential of their laptops and other devices.

The post PC of tablets / smartphones has accelerated this because by their nature, these mobile products cannot be modified in anyway. This means that planned obsolescence is rife, after market upgrades are discouraged so as to make people throw away their beloved devices after a period of time, making them little more than land fill. Now this philosophy can be witnessed in laptops and even desktops like the Mac Mini, products that once could be refitted with extra RAM, new GPUS, Hard Drives and even processors. Such a consumerist society further diminishes our world’s precious limited resources ever more rapidly.

But such a model isn’t profitable enough for businesses. Greed knows no bounds in our consumerist society it seems. What a great shame. For this reason I’ve actually become a strong advocate of refurbishing machines. If you truly do need a computer for a specific purpose, try to avoid buying the latest and greatest edition, buy a slightly older, second hand version. It’ll save you plenty of money and likely fulfil your needs.

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