I do not need a thneed.

My cherry red cell phone is dying a slow and cancerous death.

First, I dropped it while standing in line at Target™ last October.  I said a very bad word out loud when I picked it up and saw this:

Broken Motorola Krzr

Then, a few months later, the battery began pittering out, dying more quickly between charges with every passing day.

And now the sliver part of the middle button has fallen off:

Broken Motorola Krzr2Nice.

My contract for this particular phone is almost up, which means I’m allowed to get a brand new phone—any one I want—free of charge.  Poor Kyle has been nagging me to start looking at new phones for the past couple of months, because this sort of thing excites him more than me in my—never mind.  But you get what I’m saying, right?  The man loves technological gadgetry.

But here’s the thing: My cherry red cell phone still works.  Anyone who has watched the entire 20-minute Story of Stuff documentary knows that this is all a ploy, cleverly crafted by The Man and his cohorts, to compel me to stay on top of the current fads.

For a little while, I was tempted by Poor Kyle’s grand talk of newer, shinier phones within my reach.  There were a few days when I allowed myself to entertain the idea of getting a new phone even though my current phone works just fine.  I could picture it: Me with my new phone at the mall, holding a Coach™ bag and wearing skinny jeans with a tunic cinched up by a wide belt.  I looked beautiful in my daydream—and trendy, too.  Everyone wanted to be me.  Everyone waited until I passed to whisper to their friend, “Wow, look at her—she’s incredible!  And beautiful.  She is the epitome of all things graceful.”

All because of my new phone.

Umm…reality check, please.  Seriously?  Did I actually allow myself to be suckered in to the ridiculous notion that stuff—STUFF!—is going to change who I am as a person?  That because of the stuff I do or don’t have, or the clothes I do or don’t wear (but then, I almost always wear clothes, so never mind), people will view me as a better or worse person?  If that’s true, then people are pretty lame.

I liked what Annie Leonard said in the Story of Stuff, on the subject of this pop culture mindset {emphasis added}:

Our current paradigm dictates that more stuff is better, that infinite economic growth is desirable and possible, and that pollution is the price of progress. To really turn things around, we need to nurture a different paradigm based on the values of sustainability, justice, health, and community.

“What we really need to chuck is that old-school throw-away mindset.”

I was also inspired by my blog-friend Anna, who recently wrote about her own cell phone’s lengthy demise (she held onto hers for quite a lot longer than the old me ever would have):

“I have a really hard time buying something I don’t need, which is most everything I buy. We need food, but do we need that much and that kind? No, not really. We need clothes, but do we need all those clothes? Definitely not.
“…A little piece of me is still accepting the fact that my old phone still works but I’m not using it. In fact, for a second I considered using my old phone until it completely broke. I hate getting rid of things that still work, I feel so wasteful. I like to wear things to death, and if I upgrade, it’s because something is no longer usable, not just because I can and not just because I want to.”
I was talking to Poor Kyle about this again last week, trying with all my might to enlighten him toward the green movement, and he still thought I should have a new phone.  Finally, when nothing else I said had worked, I exploded with a vehement declaration:
“No!  I don’t care if every other sneetch has a star on his belly and everyone laughs at me for being the only one who doesn’t!  I DO NOT NEED A THNEED!
sneetchesImage from here.
For the smallest of instants, Poor Kyle looked at me, shocked—I think it took him a minute to remember his childhood years and put together my cryptic exclamation.  Soon, though, he started to crack a faint smile, which became a grin, which then grew into a chuckle, and soon, an earth-shaking belly laugh.
And while it’s true that I combined a few different Dr. Seuss stories to get to my point (Star-Bellied Sneetches and The Lorax), but after our gut-wrenching laughter subsided, Poor Kyle admitted defeat.  He understood my rationalisation.  Finally.
Thank you, Dr. Seuss.  You were ahead of your time.
But spell-check really hates you, you glubbering, dubbering, funwubbering man.

About Camille

I'm Camille. I have a butt-chin. I live in Canada. I was born in Arizona. I like Diet Dr. Pepper. Hello. You can find me on Twitter @archiveslives, Facebook at facebook.com/archivesofourlives, instagram at ArchivesLives, and elsewhere.
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12 Responses to I do not need a thneed.

  1. I know there are places you can donate old phones. They use them to feed orphans, or cure cancer, or something (although I don’t know HOW a phone can do those things…)

    Maybe you could get a new phone AND be doing good. Kill 2 birds with one stone.

    However I do understand what you’re saying. I just know how much you like new, nice, shiny things–they’re beautiful!

  2. Jami says:

    I HATE cell phone companies with all my heart! First I hate my cell phone…I don’t carry it EVER!
    Second I hate “the man”! I have chewed so many verizon workers it isn’t funny. Spencer and I got into one of our first fights b/c I was so mean to a worker….
    But seriously…they make those phones to either break BEFORE your contract is up (then you are FORCED to pay FULL PRICE for a phone) or close to the time that your contract is up. I HATE that! I hate cell phones, and I hate cell phone companies (almost as much as insurance people)!
    So stick it to the man and keep your phone for as long as it will work…and then make sure and yell at someone when you get a new one!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I support you 100%. It’s not just being green. It’s being economical. Hold out…

  4. Shesten says:

    Yay for the Lorax reference and not killing all the Truffula trees :o)

    or the barbaloots or swami swans.

    I’m glad you can exercise that type of restraint, ’cause i can’t. my date for a new phone is 1/10/10 – yeah i have it memorized.

  5. Jenn says:

    I just became the victim of this ploy by “the man” to get me to upgrade my phone. I settled on a refurbished Samsung Eternity from AT &T from $19.99 plus the $18 upgrade charge. My old phone, a Motorola Razor, worked just fine. I’m digging the touch screen of the Eternity. I call it my “poor man’s iphone.”

  6. You are so right. My kids get on my case because I expect a computer towork if it’s a few years old. I hate throwing out stuff that works.

  7. Joel says:

    Jami – The solution to your issues is really simple: Cancel your cell phone service! You don’t carry it and you hate the company, so stop paying for it! I don’t have one and I manage to function just fine, thank you.

    Camille – I agree that throwing away stuff that works is wasteful. However, there comes a point where “works” loses out to “xyz is so annoying I’d just rather not deal with it.” For example, my home desktop has Windows Vista. It works: starts up, runs my programs, keeps my files intact, etc. However, I am getting rid of that piece of crap operating system as soon as possible. The annoying aspects of it have outweighed my desire to not spend money replacing something that “still works.” For me, where that line is usually depends on how much a replacement costs and whether we feel that that cost is warranted for replacing said item.

    All that said, it gets to a point that something that is so old that still works becomes a point of pride. It says to the world that I’ve taken such good care of this that it has an indefinite lifespan, does what I need, and I’m saving money that everybody else isn’t.

    And that’s what I have to say about that.

  8. Geneva says:

    The Dr. Seuss made my day :) John is the same way about gadgetry. But I’m not as cool as you and like new toys. I like change for the sake of change though. However, I have gotten into upcycling to satisfy the hippy in me and my desire for something new.

    And I wish I could comment to Joel because in my house we blame everything on Vista. “Oh look, it’s 118 degrees today. Stupid Vista” or “the sink is broken. I hate Vista.” It’s almost enough to make me blow twice the money and switch to a mac.

  9. Granmama says:

    “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” B.Y.

    Like your old telephone I too am outdated and trade-in-able for a new slankier model. This summer has taught me of my place, unimportance and worthlessnessin the WHOVILLE of mortality. I praise GOD and Jesus Christ for their ability to love and accept me when I know who I am and the meaningless of my existence on this time table called “life’.

  10. anna says:

    I tried to read this post, but I couldn’t because I was so excited to see my name in it. Just kidding (about not reading the post). I think in general, me included, we over consume WAAAAAAAY too much.

    PS Your granmama is awesome.

  11. Christal says:

    you always make me laugh~! Love your posts and nice scale pics glad its going good you are so fun!!

  12. Sariah says:

    When I read this post a few days ago it reminded me that I was avoiding replacing my phone. It was dying a slow death, but since it still worked, I was just holding out. Well this weekend it finally died. I have had zero bars of reception since Saturday night. I finally went to the Verizon store and bought a new one. I realized while i was there that I received my old phone exactly three years ago today. I guess I didn’t do too bad. I made it a full year past my plan expiration date.

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