My parents bought a Kelvinator refrigerator in the 1980s. The advertisements with a little penguin as the Kelvinator brand mascot always found resonance with the 80s kids, as the cute and the coolest one. Much like the products in the brand portfolio and their tagline. One of the models that we brought home was a sky-blue refrigerator. It was a welcome break from all the whites then and looked dapper in its funky avatar. Not sure about the longevity of the present-day models, but fast forward to 2022, and the paint of our old, faithful friend has scrapped off in a place or two. The compressor still works without much maintenance! There is another refrigerator in the house now that accompanies the elder sibling and they co-exist.

I thought of it today after watching a black-and-white ad for a refrigerator from decades ago in some foreign land. That ad had appeared in my feed during one of the casual scrolling sessions on a social media platform. The comments were full of admiration for its unique features not yet spotted even in today's highly priced and sophisticated refrigerators! I too joined the bandwagon in silently admiring the makers for their design and vision and compared this scenario to today’s DNA of engines, compressors and motherboards which are the core of machines. Most aren’t as sturdy and long lasting as the ones manufactured in yesteryears. Companies like Samsung and Apple were fined over dollar 5 million each by an Italian court few years ago for deliberately slowing down their phones after software updates. No idea if they are still doing it after paying that fine! This case might even be the tip of the iceberg in the market swarmed with products from so many brands.

Our old bard Shakespeare was truly a seasoned psychologist with a deep understanding of the human mind when he gave Hamlet a madness that smacked of some ‘method’ in it. Businesses are materializing the same method as in the Apple-Samsung case wherein their strategy had been to have a deliberate fault in their products for hastening new purchases! Currency-note-ologically speaking, why on earth would businesses want their products to last forever? Wouldn’t it be just simpler for them to tweak the perfection smartly for their kitties to be full every time newer products are bought by consumers to replace the tired and retired ones? Methinks, they must be launching a full-fledged diagnosis if their products lasted beyond the expected derailment timeline for them to start malfunctioning or to painfully slow down! As a clever strategy, they also started tucking in the AMCs and extended warranties to make people get that extra sense of false security at a ‘nominal’ price.

To think how much we shell out in the name of maintenance of products these days!

Guarantee, where did thou disappear?

Is this a hopeless situation? One may want to believe so and question ethics and the world order, but the reality is that there is no control over what others are doing. One cannot take the onus of other peoples’ mindset, intentions and actions. Hopelessness can also emerge from our belief system. To counter that, it is far more beneficial to channel the energies and take control of one’s thought processes and actions, whenever possible, towards something worthwhile.

Unless we allow the negativity to majorly overpower us, we’d do just fine even in times punctuated with the unfamiliar and the unwanted.

With the inevitable need to change and become version 2.0 of self for adjusting to the changing times, it is imperative to self-manufacture a mental filtration process. Make it so robust that it does not need much maintenance. Let this one be an oasis of guarantee in the sea of extended warranties and slowdowns. The start and stop buttons can be tuned to automatically adjust to the knowledge that not everything is worth mulling over and fighting for. Let this new mental machine learn that it makes practical sense to filter out the unnecessary and choose our battles wisely. As they say, if it costs you your peace of mind, it’s not worth it.

It makes sense to upgrade for the better. The old also needs to turn over a new leaf for sustenance. Circumstances may be hostile at times, but let’s remember to first take care of our legs if we need to run or walk, or, do both. Mental strength and intent will always be paramount for the progress of any civilization. The yardstick to measure its maturity level lies in how much value and space it gives to hit the pause button for periodically looking back and resurrecting. That grandparents-era working equipment in one corner of the house can stand proudly as a vintage possession, testimony to its resilience vis a vis the present-day ones. For every modern human mind swelling with smugness over its latest innovation, there is a mystery of ancient engineering and architecture, like the rust-resistant, ever shining iron pillar of Mehrauli in India, and multiple such hundreds of years older innovations that have withstood the vagaries of nature and time. They are still inspiring and challenging the mental schemas of what has not yet been achieved despite zillions of advancements. They majestically stand tall today, maybe, also to mock the myopic view of humans to focus only on the wallet and the exchequer instead of leaving a rich legacy for future generations.

People, processes and the planet need those who are genuinely interested in uplifting others and the greater well-being; those who rise to multiple occasions to help without any hidden agenda; and those who think about the far-reaching consequences instead of just profits.

The heart of any matter, be it of machine or humans, is what gives it its worth, sustainability and swag for years to come. Simply cool, isn’t it?



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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