By Hironori K. (’21)
How technology and mass consumerism could be the death of us
The phone. It’s the symbol of our scramble to democratize technology. It’s the symbol of our arms race for information. For many of us, it’s basically life. But behind the shiny new OLED screens and under-screen fingerprint scanners is an untold story of unmanageable growth. You’re guilty, I’m guilty, billions are guilty. And it’s a really dumb problem to have.
It sounds ridiculous when you break it down. Tech giants keep selling you new tech stuff, you keep shelling out cash, and all the old stuff ends up…somewhere. In 2016, 44.7 million tons of new electronic waste were generated, amounting to 55 billion euro’s worth of both precious and hazardous metals wasting away in landfills, seeping into soil, and poisoning rivers. 80 percent of it went undocumented.
People aren’t aware of how to manage being bombarded by new technology. In a survey I conducted last year, those still on their first phone claimed that losing it would be why they’d buy a new one. But for the almost 90 percent of respondents who’ve had multiple devices, dead batteries and the release of newer models were the primary reasons for switching. And overwhelmingly, they could only point to their old phone being… “somewhere.”
We lose phones, phones get better—it’s the reality of the world we live in. But whether we get caught up in empty tech marketing or whether we stay responsible for our old devices we can decide.