Given the intimate place of cellphones in our lives, why do we get rid of them so quickly?

That’s a question an article in the NY Times poses and has an interesting answer for,

“Somewhere during the last 100 years, we learned to find refuge outside the species, in the silent embrace of manufactured objects,” Jonathan Chapman, a young product designer and theorist at the University of Brighton, writes in his book “Emotionally Durable Design.” … “The mobile phone occupies a kind of glossy, scratch-free world,” he says. Whereas a pair of jeans gains character over time, a phone does no such thing. “As soon you purchase it, you can only watch it migrating further away from what it is you want — a glossy, scratch-free object.” You might leave the plastic film over the display for a few days, just so you can take it off later and “give yourself a second honeymoon with the phone,” he says. But ultimately everything that first attracted you to it only deteriorates. You start looking at it differently. “It’s made of some kind of sparkle-finished polymer and it’s got some decent curves on it, but so what? The intimacy comes more from the fact that, within that hand-held piece of plastic, exists your whole world” — your friends’ phone numbers, your digital pictures, your music — and that stuff can be easily transferred to a new one. So you “fall out of love” with the phone, Chapman says.

The Afterlife of Cellphones also looks at the recycling of mobile phones and issues of e-waste and the dumping of inappropriate and often environmentally hazardous IT equipment in the developing world.

Also read Inside the Digital Dump that’s a photo essay from last year that complements the content in this article.

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