Sunday, June 14, 2015

Phones are newer and smarter ... this user is older and dumber!

I got into the smartphone habit much later than most in my circle.  I simply had no need for it--my old flip-phone worked fine.  My daughter was surprised; she thought I loved such gadgets.  I do.  But, when I evaluated the costs and the benefits, it just didn't seem worth it.

I finally made the switch to a smartphone.  I have now had that phone for a few years.  A couple of more generations of that phone have come and gone, but I am fine with what I have.  

In the US, most of us don't shell out the entire cost of a new smartphone.  Instead, we enter into a contract with a telephone company, which then provides the phone at a low price.  That remarkably low upfront cost makes the upgrades "easier" for customers.

With my contract, I was "eligible" for an upgrade a while ago.  I don't bother with that.  Because, I worry.  Unnecessary it might be; but, I worry.  Worry is all I seem to do, when I don't engage in sophomoric jokes ;)

The experience with the television set was tough enough.  I continued to soldier on with my cathode-ray-tube TV until the cable company's digital transmission started messing up things.  I then became the recipient of the daughter's gift!

I routinely force students to think about where their old smartphones end up when they upgrade to the latest gadget.  I have assigned essays, like this one, which then provide the context for them to pause for a few minutes and think about the resource consumption.  I practice--at least try to--what I teach.  Thus, I have a difficult time getting rid of my old smartphone even when it serves all my purposes. Last December, when I was taking photographs of the high school classmates who had come to the niece's wedding, one friend laughingly said "ever since the first time I reconnected with Sriram, he has been using the same camera."  Yes, it has been the same camera too for a few years now.  Just because it is old I should dump it?  I don't operate that way.  

I would suggest that you, too, think about those issues before you do whatever you do, especially if you are an environmental nutcase like me.  (Yes, shocking to you, eh, given my right-wing politics!)
It takes a lot of energy to use a smartphone. You charge the phone daily, you browse and exchange messages, you create tweets and Instagram posts that are saved on some faraway energy-guzzling server. Yet the biggest way to lessen the environmental impact of your phone doesn't have anything to do with how you use it, according to a new review
I have no idea why they had to do a big review to figure things out.  I have been saying the same stuff for years; oh yeah, nobody cares for what I have to say! ;)
All of that activity pales in comparison to how much energy it takes to extract and refine the dozens of precious metals that go into a smartphone. In other words, abstaining from replacing your smartphone more frequently than need be—and recycling it when you're done with it—may be the best way to make a difference.
"The current business model of mobile contracts encourages consumers to upgrade frequently, regardless of whether their current phone is fit for purpose," University of Surrey physicist James Suckling, one of the review's authors, said in a statement. "This isn't a trend that can continue if we are to have the mobile lifestyle we want, while still ensuring a sustainable future."

So, there!

I way prefer my clear approach to planned obsolescence ;)

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