Most of us know that an old computer can be great for children or grandchildren to use, and we often have a hard time getting rid of our first video-game console, but what about converting the products that shape our lives into something different—say, something greener?
In a previous post, we mentioned that some designers are incorporating old tech into fashionable accessories. Even with a cursory search of pins related to reusing old technology, you can find plenty of inspiration for what to do with those old devices.
But what is it about those first-gen laptops and outmoded towers that make them so onerous to us? Of course, there are efficiency and application limitations that businesses (and individuals) can’t overlook forever, but is there something more that makes us want to upgrade incessantly?
It would seem that the newer, better product fascination is not a world-wide phenomenon; there are a number of countries still using technology that most Americans passed up decades ago. Could it be that the experience of unpacking a shiny new gadget is the trigger we’re really looking for? After all, old computers still have viable parts that could be converted to products we might purchase anyway, like using an old laptop as a peripheral monitor.
As it turns out, there are actually two main factors psychologists have isolated as to why we get caught on the upgrade treadmill:
The first factor (the primacy and regency effect) has to do with how the interplay between our long and short-term memory motivate purchase decisions. Advertisers toggle between what we’ve learned about a product (primacy) and the more powerful regency of what we’ve last seen about it, to our wallet’s detriment. Pre-sale hype and the latest buzz converge to convince us that all the reviews we read in-between are meaningless and that we need the new technology.
The second factor deals with our physiology: namely, the effects of dopamine on our behavior. Studies have shown that when presented with the logo of their favorite brand, brain imaging in consumers matched the activity of what religious imagery does for religious participants. Our bodies give us a dose of dopamine every time we interact with brands that bring us exciting new technology. It seems buying from our favorite brand can actually become a religious experience.
Unfortunately, upgrading technology consistently is not just a threat to individual consumers. Businesses can get caught up in the “benefits”—real or perceived—of newer technology as well. Buzz words like Digital Transformation and Technology Optimization can act like triggers for companies looking to gain a competitive advantage.
Sadly, however, this upgrade treadmill is not sustainable. And, with the doses of dopamine—a highly addictive hormone—upgrading gives us, it can verge on addiction. The combination of which has the potential to double the already staggering amount of e-waste that’s choking our environment.
It is for this reason businesses should have a thorough and effective IT Asset Management program. With buying power that outpaces the individual a hundred-fold, companies have a corporate social responsibility to handle their e-waste conscientiously. Reuse, then, becomes the most viable option for the massive amounts of technology being upgraded in corporate America.
At Sage, environmental responsibility is paramount. And when it concerns e-waste, we are all over it. But even with our seven-stage process to conscientiously handle e-waste, there are some ways people repurpose old technology that still manages to amaze us. How do you deal with your old technology? Do you have a good reuse story?