Sincerely, Sumner: a lesson in letting go

Columns Editor Sumner Wallace ’20 shares a harrowing technological experience and what it taught her in the third installment of Sincerely, Sumner.


Kiley Butcher

Sumner Wallace ’20 discusses planned obsolescence and letting go in her column.

Dear reader,

Planned obsolescence is a policy of producing consumer goods that rapidly become obsolete and so require replacing, achieved by frequent changes in design, termination of the supply of spare parts, and the use of nondurable materials. I became very well acquainted with this definition recently when my iPhone, a time capsule I’ve had since the beginning of high school, died on me. Whilst trying to update it like a good Gen Zer, my phone had a mental breakdown and wouldn’t snap out of it and restart without first deleting all my files. 

I must admit, it felt like Apple was plotting against me. They wanted me to buy the iPhone 10 billion, and they would make my current phone malfunction to achieve that. Of course I know that’s ridiculous, but I had my life on there. Or it felt like it, at least. Photos, videos, contacts, notes full of my friends dumbest quotes, all gone. However, I realized that if I couldn’t remember on my own the people or the moments that were captured on my phone, then maybe they weren’t worth remembering. 

That may sound harsh, but in my experience letting go is healthy, and often it’s the only option. Being somewhat Type A, I hate feeling out of control. This also means that I have a hard time letting go of things. I replay moments over and over again, torturing myself with what could have gone differently. But everyone loses the “What if?” game. It prolongs misery and wastes time. 

Everything has an expiration date.”

— Sumner Wallace '20

This is where letting go comes in. Letting go takes the metaphorical weight off your shoulders, and honestly makes life more enjoyable. When you learn to let things go you can think more clearly and take in the future instead of dragging around the past. Take Elsa in Frozen, for example. Elsa tried long and hard to conceal, not feel. She was miserable trying to contain her ice powers, but once she let go and built an ice castle in the forest she felt a lot better. 

Everything has an expiration date: relationships, iPhones, the past. Everything becomes obsolete, whether it’s planned or not, and the only way to deal with the real or perceived loss is to accept it and let it go.