In the 1930s, a single light bulb could last for up to 25,000 hours, but the Phoebus cartel changed all that, and all of our lives forever.
In short, the cartel forced all companies to produce bulbs limited to a maximum life of 1,000 hours in order to increase demand. How? Essentially, the cartel prevented technological advances that would produce longer-lasting light bulbs, for the sole purpose of generating repeated sales and maximizing profit.
This marked the dawn of planned obsolescence.
If you are unfamiliar, planned obsolescence is a production technique that compels people to buy more and more stuff unnecessarily, by providing people with products of short lifespan. Just like the light bulbs scam.
Think about it. Your toaster breaks after a year. You don’t think twice about buying another. Your furniture only lasts ten years when the old school, well-built stuff lasted generations. This sucks!
Technological advances in the early 20th century, you know, the industrial revolution, resulted in the production of higher quality goods at a quick pace. That was great! But because the stuff we made was good quality, we didn’t need to buy as much stuff (because it lasted longer, duh).
You see, our economic system is really based on consumption which means that the more we buy stuff, the more of our hard earned money moves back into the economy, which keeps it growing. Pretty easy formula.
Look at it the other way. If we stop buying so much stuff, then the economy collapses. That’s bad. Really bad. And the people who run the world aren’t going to let that happen.
So, the “solution” given in the 1930s was to make it legally mandatory for all industries to produce goods of lower lifespan, which was believed to help reduce unemployment and increase consumption.
And it worked. And it’s still working.
And it’s destroying us little by little.
Because we’ve been conditioned that “stuff doesn’t last” and “we can just replace it.” We all accept this blindly.
Advertising says: You NEED this. You WANT this. You MUST have this.
But here’s what they leave out.
What your buying is crap on purpose, but don’t worry, when it breaks, you can just BUY MORE of it!
Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, the world's largest furniture retailer, is the eighth richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of $58.7 billion. IKEA’s entire business model is built on the premise of “we’ll sell you cheap stuff that looks nice, but it’s not really of the highest quality.”
WalMart rose to the top of the food chain on a similar platform. Here’s a ton of cheap shit from China that will make you feel good for saving money. But the reality is that those socks you bought for $.99 will last about a year then you’ll be back buying another pair.
Fast food does this as well. Low quality food is cheap as hell, but try to get some healthy food and you’re going to pay out your ass for it. Counter point: Whole Foods, on the other end of the spectrum, has got this system down and is making billions selling expensive stuff to wealthy people.
Ok, ok. So what Jim? I like my cheap shit.
So do I. This isn’t really about buying stuff; this is about your life. Here’s the point I’m trying to make.
Your life doesn’t have to be driven by planned obsolescence.
In fact, it can’t be. Because you’ve only got so much time to live it.
How many years do you have left? Father Time is undefeated my friend. Ask yourself right now. How are you going to spend the rest of your life?
Are you going to spend it focusing on fostering low quality things like bad relationships?
Are you going to keep spending your time on low quality experiences like working in a shit job you hate?
Are you going to spend your time just wishing you were happier instead of taking some kind of action to fix that?
Because newsflash, you don’t have more time and you cannot buy more time. Very soon, you’re going to wake up and POOF, the clock will have run out.
In previous SYCS thoughts we’ve talked about how a pill can’t fix you, and just living your life carefree like Bill Murray might be the answer. We’ve even discussed how maybe taking magic mushrooms might just be the way to change your mindset.
Sensing the common theme? It’s time to fix your shit, before it’s too late.
So text me now. Tell me what you’ve been waiting to do to fix your life, and why you haven’t gotten it done yet.