Once a day every week, a garbage truck visits each house, each apartment, and every office in your city. It takes your refuse and chucks it into the heap of trash it carries along. Sometimes it picks up less from some places, sometimes more, but it always ends it shift with tons and tons of filth.
This weekly ritual repeats itself in every town, city, and village in every country in the world. Seven billion people generate an incomprehensible amount of waste and filth every second of every day. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor or if you recycle or not, every person will generate irreclaimable material. Its removal is a basic service all people need. It has been so ever since the neolithic, the first time humans started to live in concentrated communities.
Despite its necessity, all of us have felt reprehension when throwing something out. Whether it be an old computer, a broken TV, or even a wrecked car, we can’t help but think of it as a waste. If you’ve ever moved a long distance, you know how much stuff you have that is just sitting around that you never use. There is just too much that is simply not worth moving.
What is truly bothersome about this junk is how there is little to no consequences for just trashing it. Modernity has brought a world of abundance. You can always buy a new one, whatever it might be. We’ve all experienced something that is cheaper just to replace than even bother to try and repair.
Modernity seems to make this trend worse with every year. A few generations ago, every household could knit their own clothing with a bit of thread and a needle. Today, most people can barely sew a button on. People used to be able to take whole engines apart if something was wrong with their car. Now, barely anyone can change their own oil. It hasn’t been a few select skills modernity has corrupted. It’s wide spread and affects almost every skill we used to have.
There are a multitude of quickly apparent reasons why we can’t do anything for ourselves any more. People are busier. Men and women both has full-time jobs now. Children spend most of their waking hours in state run daycares which we call schools. Things are cheaper. Most products are mass produced in third world counties. Your time is now worth infinitely more than the slave labor that built it.
Ultimately, the real cause of this waste comes from much deeper. It has been a systematic and total change of how we value basic and luxury items alike. It stems from modern society’s obsession with things and materialism before all else. The desire for more and more things has changed the meaning of these things from their own utility to simply possessing it.
Consider the choices most people make when shopping for a car. It is a major purchase most people make at least a few times in their life. Most need a car only to get them from Point A to Point B. People do not look for a car based on the important facts. Things like the cost of maintenance, upkeep, and operation are of little consequence. If they did, most people would be driving dependable, used sedans.
Instead, we see people drive almost anything but. Some buy trucks despite never hauling anything in their life. Some buy hybrid or electric cars despite only marginal improvements to gas usage. Some buy sports cars with insane acceleration despite that most of their driving consists of them being stuck in traffic. All of these are fueled by a desire to own something. They want to own it for the status possession of the object brings rather than any utility gained from it.
This attitude shows itself in most every purchase the modern consumer makes. Status itself can be acquired solely by owning more things. Why do you care if you already have a phone that works great, you can easily get one with a bigger screen. This is how trends are both born and die. People jump onto the latest thing without really thinking if it is really better than what they already have. The eventual realization of the innate hollowness of the trend just pushes people onto the next one.
While it shows itself in our rampant materialsm, this attitude perverts far more. It gets down to the heart of modernity. It explains why people have so many acquaintances but so few true friends. It is why modern society promotes vapid art like pop music and ignores the eternal and great works of eras gone by.
Being able to recognize this in your own possessions and preferences is of the utmost importance. You should always focus on the things that provide true utility. It lets you focus on what really matters. If you listen to the mob and go with the flow by follow every trend, you will find your life empty. It wears you so thin by spreading you out. Before you buy that new and bigger flat screen TV, ask yourself if you really need it. Sooner or later, it too will be added to the heap of filth in that back of a garbage truck and hauled away.