The Tale of Incalculable Losses
Ilost my smart phone, which I won in an essay competition; and it was a big-time brand to boot. The day I won it I checked the price online: it was worth around USD 1,200. Losing it was about the same as losing USD 1,200. You can imagine how much that hurt.
I told my friends about this last night at a party. One of them told me I hadn’t lost twelve hundred bucks, but actually around six hundred. He said the twelvehundred- dollar price was for when it was new, but now it had depreciated to six hundred.
He was right actually. I didn’t lose my phone when it was new; I lost it now, two years after it was launched onto the market.
Right after that, another friend told me that I hadn’t actually lost six hundred, but three hundred. When I asked him the reason, he said it was because I had used the phone for two years. It was going for six hundred bucks new, but was only going for three hundred used, and so the phone was only worth the depreciated amount for a second-hand phone.
I thought about it and it really made sense.
So then, another friend chimed in and said that I hadn’t actually lost three hundred bucks, but just one hundred. In his opinion, that phone was a luxury for me. He pointed out that, were I to go buy a smart phone myself, I would spend no more than around one hundred.
I have to admit, he hit the nail right on the head. To me, a cell phone is just for calling, texting, playing around on WeChat, or occasionally checking the time. That’s it.
Another comment came after that saying, I hadn’t lost one hundred, and that I hadn’t even lost a single penny, because my phone hadn’t cost me anything. I had got it free.
What can I say? He had a point there. It had been donated; the one who had picked up the tab was the sponsoring firm, and in spite of the fact that it was lost, it could be chalked up to a loss for that company, not for me.
Opposite to that was another one commenting that I had lost a ton of money. Maybe it was hard to say exactly how much, but my losses were possibly even innumerable. He proposed the idea that, just supposing I had sold the phone at that time for around a thousand and invested the money into the stock market, perhaps I would right now have five thousand, seven thousand or even more in my pocket.
I lost my cell phone and everyone’s estimation of my losses yielded a different amount. At the end of the day, I have no idea how much I actually lost. When thinking anything over too much it’s easy to pick holes in every argument, especially in working out how much I “lost” with the loss of my phone.
(From Window of Knowledge , March 2018. Translation: Chase Coulson)