Do They Really Not Make Things Like They Used to?

My Samsung flat screen TV, three years old, has begun a slow downward spiral toward the end of its life – blurs and double vision and lines on the screen. My Apple Macbook Pro, also 3 1/2 years old, is almost ready for hospice and I can run a quarter-mile while it boots up. Other appliances of mine that have broken significantly the last year and a half: my washing machine, refrigerator, dishwasher, hot water heater, air conditioning, and pipes.

“Not surprising,” I was told by someone the other day, “they don’t make things like they used to.”

I don’t believe that. They make things way better than they used to. 

Washing machines can be controlled remotely and air conditioners are more efficient and hot water heaters can be tankless and on my Macbook I edit videos, create podcasts, and talk to people overseas on Skype.

I just don’t see how products are worse. They’re mostly all better, and most didn’t even exist when we were kids. 

It really wasn’t that long ago people were scanning in resumes they’d get on paper (and some still do), and systems did not exist for companies to manage their job candidates and their candidates’ friends of friends; sophisticated online employer-employee matchmaking tools and workforce planning software and were yet to be invented; and working from home sounded like an oxymoron, for the tools for doing so simply didn’t really make it make sense.

I guess we so easily forget what we didn’t once have. For example — an example I’ve heard before, so it’s not mine originally: service stations. They used to so ubiquitious, because cars were more hassle. Now they’re called gas stations, and they are fewer, as we barely service our cars for tens of thousands of miles.

The thing is — a lot of items, a lot of gadgets, they’re more complicated now. And so they don’t last as long. Sometimes, they’re more complicated than they need to be; sometimes the simple and less-breakable is the way to go when we don’t need Internet-enabled toasters. My daughter’s toys seem to break much more quickly than I recall them breaking when I was a kid; then again, I’m not sure that means “they don’t make things like they used to” — unless you really miss lead.

It made its rounds on Facebook a couple months ago, but perhaps it’s a good time to bring back that Louis CK video, below ..


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