Thanks to our capitalist society and the brilliance of social media and FOMO, we’re constantly looking towards the next new thing. One company that has captured our hearts so eloquently is Apple. In 1976, Steve Jobs brilliantly created a company that would soon dominate Big Tech with its sleek designs and constant updates to its products. Less than 15 years ago, the first iPhone model came out and now they’re 24 different models.
On any given subway car in New York City, you’ll spot the newest Apple product, whether it’s the Liquid Retina display of iPhone Xs and iPhone 11s or the trendy, wireless AirPods. Same goes for Colby’s campus, where I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen the smaller body of the iPhone 5. With easy upgrades and crafty marketing, no one can seem to handle not having the newest thing (or at least relatively newest), myself included.
As quickly as I notice people in NYC and Colby sporting the new iPhones, coming to Scotland I noticed almost the opposite. Of course, there are people with AirPods and iPhone X/11s but the quantity is noticeable lower. Sitting in the library, I’m quick to see the significantly smaller body of the iPhone 5, a model that dates back to 2012. A couple weeks ago, I went down to Leeds, England to visit a high school friend who moved to the UK two years ago. “People aren’t as obsessed with material objects here. In some circles, it’s not cool to constantly display wealth,” she noted when I asked about some cultural differences she’s witnessed. She herself still had her trusty iPhone 6, a phone she’s had since high school.
A common trait Americans are associated with is materialistic. Even if we think about the American Dream, along with freedom and equality, it can be equated to financial success. Our consumerist ideals have a lot of consequences, a notable one in my environmental discipline is e-waste. With updated models to our phones, iPads, and laptops coming out at rapid fire, the United States is producing and attempting to offset massive amounts of e-waste internationally. I’m personally conflicted on whether I believe there is more responsibility on consumers or producers to combat over consumerism and environmental consequences. With absolutely no research done regarding the matter, there’s a possibility that due to culturally difference consumer habits, the UK may not be struggling as much as the US to dispose of massive quantities of e-waste. I wonder if there are a couple tips Brits could give us Americans to re-orient ourselves to non-materialistic ideals. Or maybe it’s just second nature to them.