Planned Obsolescence

We are T minus four days and counting until Aaron and Abbey’s wedding reception in our back yard.  Today something bad happened.  Our trusty 20-something year old lawn mower’s transmission went out.  The mower still runs, but it no longer propels itself, it must be PUSHED.

For those of you who know our property, you know we have a lot of lawn to mow–the front yard, the back yard, the playground, the farm house front yard, the farm house backyard and the mow strip along Main Street.  It usually takes a good part of a full day to mow everything.  And John’s been timing this last mow before the events to take place right before the big day.

What to do??  John called our neighbor, Dale Cutler, who owns the best lawnmower shop in Orem and he came by on his way to work to take a look at things.  He told us our mower is one of the best mowers ever made, perhaps his favorite, but that they no longer make them.  “They lasted too long,” he said.  Mowers today are built to die after a few years.  He called it “Planned Obsolescence.”

He said it would cost hundreds of dollars to replace the parts IF he could find them.  He said a new comparable mower would cost more than $1000, but it wouldn’t be as solid as this machine.  What to do???

Kind Dale said we could borrow his own home mower to prepare for our wedding reception, a nice new self-propelling electric mower.  You plug it in to charge it.  The charge would run out before we’d be able to mow all of our grass, but we had time to keep recharging it.  He told us that kind of mower is great for smaller yards, but maybe not the best for our situation.  Still, we had a mower and were grateful to be able to get the grass cut.

John PUSHING the mower to finish one of the back yards.

I’ve been thinking of what Dale said all day.

planned ob·so·les·cence

/ˌpland ˌäbsəˈlesəns/

    1. a policy of producing consumer goods that rapidly become obsolete and so require replacing, achieved by frequent changes in design, termination of the supply of spare parts, and the use of nondurable materials.

What are the three types of planned obsolescence?

Planned obsolescence is when various strategies are used to make a product seem undesirable, useless, and unwanted.

4 Types Of Planned Obsolescence
  • contrived durability,
  • software updates,
  • perceived obsolescence,
  • and prevention of repair.

More about this here:

It just doesn’t seem right that manufacturers PURPOSEFULLY design products to wear out so we’ll have to buy new ones.  The more I thought about it, the more examples came to mind of things that really shouldn’t wear out or need to be updated, but do.   Built to fail.  Cars, phones, laptops, lightbulbs, shoes, appliances, even branding on food.

Then I thought about my body and Heavenly Father’s Plan for me.  It’s not so different.  Knees can be replaced, hair can be dyed, cataracts can be removed, vitamins might boost our energy a bit, but all in all, we are all wearing out, and there’s not all that much we can do about it.

So what’s the alternative?  We die.  We move on.  We return to our Heavenly Home.  I’m good with that!  He has planned our obsolescence!

In our October 1996 General Conference, Elder Russell M. Nelson, a world-renown heart surgeon said:

“Even though our creator endowed us with this incredible power. . . the ability of the body to heal and repair itself from injury and illness. . . he consigned a counterbalancing gift to our bodies. It is the blessing of aging, with visual reminders that we are mortal beings, destined one day to leave this frail existence. Our bodies change every day. As we grow older, our broad chests and narrow waists have a tendency to trade places. We get wrinkles, lose color in our hair–even hair itself–to remind us that we are the mortal children of an immortal God, with a manufacture’s guarantee that we shall not be stranded on earth forever.”

I’m good with His plan.  Sometimes even excited about wearing out and being closer to the Return to His Presence.   It will be glorious when we get there.  But for now, I suppose finding replacement parts and dealing with the wearing out is just part of our plan and something we must each deal with.  I’m glad we’re all in it together.

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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