Throwing Away Broken Electronics

If you’ll indulge me in a song I’ve posted about before – twice. But my wife and I spent most of Wednesday cleaning out what we call the “computer room,” our catch-all space where we keep everything from the primary computer to an elliptical machine to a bookshelf with my (unopened!) Michael Jordan Starting Lineup figure (this one).

It’s a room that was a comfortable mess – until it became an uncomfortable mess. It was the type of room in which you only remembered where something was in relation to the clutter around it: “Oh, that unused checkbook is in the same drawer as the three-hole punch!” (Why do we own a three-hole punch anyway?). There was just stuff everywhere – CDs, wires, papers, 45s. I’m not talking Hoarders-style mess, but it became overwhelming enough that we were inspired to purge. And it became readily apparent as we were cleaning that this room was an electronics graveyard, a dusty museum of dated technology. Long-dead hard drives and orphaned AC adapters finally met their maker. RIP.

Still, like anything, there’s a certain trepidation to letting go. Oh, sure, we hung on to our fair share of cables (“I’ll need this some day”, you tell yourself), but we finally took a stand, and god damn it we’re going to recycle those cell phones from 1998! Why, though, did I feel a certain loyalty to these inanimate objects? For the past month, I’d been cursing that good-for-nothing, motherfucking scroller ball in our Mac Mighty Mouse that absolutely refused to respond when I wanted to scroll down. (Strangely, it didn’t respond either when I slammed it on the desk two or three – or 10 – times.) But when it came time to, uh, pull the plug, something felt odd. You invest money and faith in this technology only to throw it away like an ATM receipt? I expected more, I guess.

All the while, I could only think of the Meanest Man Contest song, Throwing Away Broken Electronics, a fitting soundtrack for the day. And I remembered what emcee Eriksolo told me when I asked him about the inspiration for the track:

“I was cleaning out my house one day and I came across all this old gear that I used to make music on but was no longer really working right. It made me really nostalgic and sorta melancholy. But then it also felt really good to get rid of it.”

As I sit here, typing from the cleanest I’ve ever seen this desk, no truer words have ever been spoken.

3 thoughts on “Throwing Away Broken Electronics”

  1. In 2008 I purged. Not, like, simply tossing away shirts with yellow pit stains; like, pretty much starting fresh. I had just sold my condo, was living at my parents’ house, and had narrowed my “things” down to a bedroom’s worth of stuff. I sold most of that stuff on eBay, and gave a bunch to Goodwill. There were a lot of memories there, don’t get me wrong, but I still have the memories that were worth saving even though I no longer have the item attached to the thought.

    For the past 10 months or so I’ve had a suitcase & a backpack. It’s a bit extreme, and I would really like to have a place of my own again, with a proper bed and whatnot (the past six months I pretty much couch-surfed in Canada…), but it’s freeing in the sense that it highlights the important things in your life.

    Don’t know that I really have a point here, just wanted to comment on how I can identify with the feeling of “feeling good” about making such a decision.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Chris.

    I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become less dependent on “stuff” defining me and been more willing to part with things I just had to have. For as much hesitation I have in getting rid of stuff, it’s equally gratifying.

    I’ve definitely become more wary of acquiring more, too. I was just in LA last month and made obligatory trip to Amoeba Records. It was the first time I’ve ever been there that I walked out with nothing. Oh, I could have easily bought plenty, but there was nothing that I felt so strongly attached to that I couldn’t live without. It was sort of a weird awakening for me.

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