Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Shortened product lives might impact on our ability to maintain long term human relations!

Is our tendency to change personal products leading to an adverse impact on our ability to maintain long-term human relationships? Are we being driven by market forces in our lack of ability to maintain long term relationships with other human beings?

Gone are those days when you bought a a car to last a lifetime, or a fridge that lasted fifteen years, a cooler that required an A.M.C. but lasted ages! Then you bought either an Ambassador car, or the fleeter Premier Padmini, and did they last! They just didn’t seem to perish! That Godrej Almirah, that  ceiling fan, and that Weston T.V. set, well they sure did last. Today however, the life of most products is very short, products are not meant to last, rather they are meant to be replaced from time to time, and some mobile phones might even be replaced every six months! Is it because our attitudes have changed, we have become more restless, more impatient, and constantly look for change, a lack of constancy, an on-going unstoppable drive for more, and a general dissatisfaction or discontent? If the answer to these questions is, ‘yes’, then it means we are verily and truly stuck in an ever spiralling vicious circle of hunger for change, a spiral that is moving steadily inwards!
What then is driving this change, this desire for  newer products, this sense of discontent, and where will it finally lead to? I remember, the first digital camera that my school purchased was a two megapixel Kodak Easy share camera. It drank power with great thirst, and could take about 28 photographs on the internal memory alone. The Camera cost about Rs.10,000/- that was the early 2003.This camera became obsolete very fast with the Megapixel race, and the advent of the Lithium Ion battery which lasted longer. Sony came up with its Sony Cybershot range, and the ‘W’ series  were expensive! My first personal Digital camera was a W-30 Cybershot and it had a max. resolution of 6 MPs.Coming at a cost of Rs.14400/- it was no cheap deal. Today you can get a 12 MP for as less as Rs.4000/- with a carry case, charger and memory card!
Cheap products might have better features, but then they do come at a cost, that is, their build quality might not be as solid as earlier, but then if they last you a couple of years and you can pass them on, then wouldn’t they give you a sense of satisfaction till they last? Yes, you bought an Ambassador car to last a life time. Your children grew up with it, and they even got driven to their marriage venues in the venerable, member of the family! The Car had a sentimental value and the very thought of selling of the family heirloom was a sacrilege! Today, one would have changed five or six cars in a life-time, perhaps more with the result that one wouldn’t develop an emotional relationship with them! With products becoming obsolete so fast, it seems as if we are driven by the fear of lagging behind, of becoming Aunts and Uncles, and we want to show others that we are not ourselves becoming obsolete!
Is this trend of changing personal gadgets and products from time to time good for our mental health? I would dare so no! This lack of constancy, consistency, and lack of attachment, even if it is with personal gadgets and objects can make us fickle minded, unable to maintain long term relationships with people who mean the most to us! Couldn’t this habit of using and discarding personal objects lead to a tendency of discarding partners , a tendency to get bored with one’s so called beloved ones? I fear that this is what we might be heading to; a life devoid of commitments, a life of one night stands, a life with “no strings attached” a life where you don’t have to carry the baggage of emotional attachments! It seems to be very clear that we are being driven by market forces to change personal products constantly, and this is spelling a corresponding lack of constancy in personal relationships with other human beings! An increase in the number of cases of divorce, an increase in cases of infidelity, and increase in cases of wife swapping might all be the result of our being a target of market forces! Today we are facing more and more problems in maintaining long term human relations.
Propaganda techniques that drive market forces keep reminding us to change products,  the bandwagon technique suggests that if we don’t jump the bandwagon then we will lose the race! If we are not able to build an emotional connect with our gadgets and products that we have spent so much money, then won’t we in turn lack the ability to build an emotional relationship with those who matter the most to us? The answer might be frightening enough!

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