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My weird relationship with things

I’ve noticed a behavior of mine at some point: I don’t mentally refer to an object as mine until I do a round of maintenance for it. For example:

This is helpful in many ways.

First, it makes things that I own better over time. I value them more, and enjoy their longer lifespan. This can be achieved also by customizing or replacing parts with more reliable ones.

Then, it makes me want less things. I go through the mental exercise of making a thing mine, and I get tired pretty quickly even thinking about it. I don’t want to spend time on the new things I get.

I’ve discovered a few hobbies while practicing this exercise. One of them is repairing electronics. It started with a broken screen on my smartphone. Replacing it was frightful, but the satisfaction was immense. I used that thing with pride. My friends immediately started to ask me to fix their phones. Here’s a freebie, and no need to thank me: if you want to keep a friend, don’t fix their phone.

The electronics repair hobby brings lots of utility to me. I can spend my leisure time in a way that brings value. I save time and money because I don’t need to go to a store or a repair shop and ask somebody to do it for me. I think one can take a positive environmental angle on it too.

I’ve torn down and put back my Kindle today because one of the buttons was stuck and sitting a bit asymmetrically. I’ve enjoyed 30-40 minutes of a nice mental flow, which felt great. I didn’t actually fix the button because of a metal spring that was bent and I couldn’t straighten it.

I often look at the things not from what they can do but from how maintainable they are. I love how relatively easy to repair older MacBooks are. My favorite is the unibody 15” one. You could swap or upgrade the battery, hard drive, RAM, display assembly, keyboard with relatively easy effort. The first 15” retina was also great, though more components were custom or soldered on the logic board. Latest 12” MacBook consists basically of 5 pieces: logic board, screen, battery, trackpad and a keyboard.

I like that companies like iFixit, people like Louis Rossmann, and acts like Right to Repair are actively pushing towards liberalization of hardware repair.

On the other hand, I am still undecided whether unauthorized repair means stealing intellectual property from the manufacturer, or if it’s a human right as a part of the fact of ownership.

Don’t hear what I’m not saying. I won’t tinker with every thing I get. Especially if it puts safety at risk. It’s a useful exercise that I sometimes do.

Last edited on Jan 10, 2019