While catching up on my reading after being away, I ran across an interesting article in Saturday’s Toronto Star. In “The tyranny of residual media,” freelance writer Ryan Bigge talks about the iPhone and how consumers chase the new and improved. As Bigge says,

“It might seem cruel to mention the technological best-before date for a device that’s barely a week old (and still unavailable in Canada), but it’s time to start thinking more carefully about how we conclude our relationships with particular technologies, rather than obsessing over how we come to first acquire them…

“…Durable goods used to be marketed with slogans like ‘The only (insert one: vacuum cleaner/garden hose/Ginsu knife) you’ll ever need.’ Today such claims sound ridiculous, especially in relation to digital media.”

If it breaks, it should be fixed, not tossed aside, and it’s troubling that our society is wired the other way. These days, it’s either cheaper to buy a replacement than to have something fixed, or you can’t even find the craftspeople to do the fixing.

A few years ago, when Son #2 needed a costume for a school play, don’t laugh but I decided to sew one. My trusty old Singer sewing machine worked, but had not been tuned for some time. Fortunately, I found a local repairman who used to run a Singer retail store. He gave it up when he couldn’t compete against Wal-Mart, which sold newer, cheaper machines with more plastic parts.

He obviously loved the art of fixing the older machines, which had durable metal components that for the most part only needed cleaning and oiling. The machine worked like a dream afterwards and the costume turned out great, if I do say so myself. I kept his business card and told many people about him, but I worry that people like him are a dying breed.