Newmann: A series of theories

We ordered a small appliance the other day and, when it finally arrived, it didn’t work correctly.

So we called the company we purchased it from to let them know about the problem and they said, “Send it back. And we’ll send a replacement item back to you.” And they did. Immediately.

Wow, a company that stands by its replacement theory!

But not all companies are so benevolent. And some have a completely different perspective on replacement theory. These would be the companies that embrace the idea of planned obsolescence, that an item (or items) that they sell have a very limited lifespan — and that you’ll eventually have to replace them within a particular time frame. In some cases, it’s almost immediately after the end of the product’s warranty.

So, even within the world of business, replacement theory can really vary. It seems to be that way in some other aspects of life as well.

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Within some circles, replacement theory can be a pretty touchy subject. We’re in the cyber age and, gradually, computers and robots and lots of other types of automation seem to be replacing the jobs many folks used to have. Might be a cause for concern for some. But, then again, seems like many businesses are having trouble hiring real live humans … so maybe all that automation isn’t really such a big deal.

Speaking of humans, even interaction between folks is being replaced. Heck, you can put on cyber goggles and be in your own little world. You can play tennis with an imaginary partner, fly a combat jet (with no prior experience) or even go to vacation spots all by yourself — without leaving home. If you don’t like the solo route, you can still play all sorts of games against unknown and unseen opponents. It’s just a simple matter of replacement theory. You can replace reality with a hearty dose of something virtual.

We even have replacement money. Very few folks pay with real cash anymore. Credit cards are the way forward. And, if you happened to show up with a very big wad of cash to buy a car (or a house) you’d probably be under an immediate cloud of suspicion. “Where did that come from?” Talk about replacement theory … a square of plastic replacing green paper notes. Who would have thought? And then there’s crypto currency, the ultimate in replacement currency. Wow!

You can probably come up with all sorts of stuff that’s under the umbrella of replacement theory. Doesn’t take too much thought. And some of it is, if you do think about it, kind of weird (plastic turf instead of grass; artificial flavors over real ones). But other aspects are pretty cool (synthetic body parts to replace the worn-out originals).

When it comes to civilizations, we’ve been on a roll over the centuries in replacing one with another. Certainly nothing new. For centuries, nations have been conquering nations and, in many cases, have enforced assimilation on — or tried to wipe out — the vanquished.

And it’s not necessarily even nation against nation. At the base level, it’s just good old tribalism. The folks who happened to be the first ones inhabiting an area had no guarantees that their tenure in that area would be smooth sailing. Or that they’d even be around for the long haul. Lots of here today, gone (or absorbed) tomorrow over the past few millennia. Gosh, talk about replacement theory.

Or, maybe, just an age-old human condition currently wrapped in a new — and potentially incendiary — slogan?

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