The Quagmire In Every One Of Us
Verizon has been sending me messages letting me know that I’m only two payments away from having my Samsung paid off. Then it’s mine, all mine! Horray! It only took two years to get here!
I’m sure somewhere way up their marketing funnel are dozens of emails and text messages about the next phone I should be getting - the one that has four cameras or a super fast connection or a battery that you only have to charge once a week. There is likely some software imprisoned on the device that will try to serve as my nosy digital assistant - but on this version, there will be no way to turn her off.
And I can lease it for only $40/month. Yet, there is a part of me that would love to see a cell phone bill that is $80 lighter each month (my wife’s phone is wrapped up in my plan, too).
Verizon knows I’ll be open to this marketing because somewhere in their system they know that I’ve upgraded in the past. They figured there is still a status-hungry being inside of me that wants the newest phone as soon as I can get it.
When we moved, I found an entire drawer full of cell phone cases that fit phones I don’t own anymore and charging cables that fit outdated devices no one owns anymore. Donating these things to Goodwill is like giving them trash - no one needs them, much less cheaply or secondhand.
It bothered me to just throw them away. I’m realizing that if it bothers me to throw it away, I really need to reconsider what I buy in the first place.
When I get rid of an old phone, I’m not entirely sure where it goes. I once pulled the SIM and sold an old phone to a former coworker for fifty bucks. Beyond that, I can only guess they get dumped, scrapped for parts, with most of their innards left to never rot in a trash pile somewhere.
I’m trying to be more aware of my footprint. I would love to reduce it and go off the grid and enjoy the “oneness” for a while. And therein lies the quagmire.
Those who surf tend to be environmentalists. It’s no secret our oceans are becoming toxic dumps, and who wants to swim in it? So they tend to be environmentalists, right up until they get talking about their surfboards - modern ones are essentially Styrofoam wrapped in plastic.
Don’t worry; someone is working on it.
If they gave up their Styrofoam boards, would they have as much of a voice to share on the environment? Or would they be ‘those dudes on the beach who won’t shut up about trash’?
It’s a quagmire of intention.
It’s easy to draw a thousand lines about how a cell phone is ruining something: the environment, your relationships, your attention span, your ability to think creatively. There is sick irony in how we all look to the same devices for solutions to the problems it creates.
I want to connect with people about how to create better stories that are more interesting and connect them to the audiences they want. To do that, I need to steal away someone’s attention from something else they find important. Maybe it's their kids; maybe it’s the Kardashians. Whatever it is, it is important to them, and I’m getting in the way of it.
On the same stroke, I want to connect with people about their love for the outdoors, the environment, and ways we can protect it from needless development and promote responsible use. The best way for me to do that is technology - the phones, the laptops, the power from the wall, the wifi waves in the air.
If I gave it all up and stayed true to the intention, I’d never reach anyone about anything.
They say capitalism is the exact opposite of environmentalism.
I think one has to borrow from the other, constantly, for either to keep going.
The means of capitalism allow the message of environmentalism to stay alive. The cause of environmentalism allows capitalism to have the raw resources to draw from.
It might be the worst kind of quagmire.