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I'm looking for a phrase or short illustration to describe someone completely missing the value of something or someone, e.g. a Sahara tribesman who stumbles across an iPhone and uses it to block a hole in his mud hut...

  • A story? Can you confirm you want an actual story as opposed to an expression or even a short quote? – Tushar Raj Mar 7 '18 at 10:00
  • I've updated my question. – mr_js Mar 7 '18 at 10:17
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    I'm not entirely sure a short story or an illustration request is on-topic for this site. Let's wait for others to weigh in. – Tushar Raj Mar 7 '18 at 10:18
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    @TusharRaj agree ... phrases, word usage and/or idioms would be appropriate. – lbf Mar 7 '18 at 13:46
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    The purpose of the device was completely "lost on him". – intrepidis Mar 16 '18 at 0:37
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As in:

A sahara tribesmam stumbled across an iphone. Its use was lost on him as he used it to block a hole in his mud hut.

be lost on (someone) TFD

To have little or no impact or effect on someone; to not be valued, appreciated, or understood by someone.

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Repurposing.

Note that there's a value judgement hidden in the question. Do objects have 'intrinsic' value, or is their value entirely in the context of the user?

A discharged iPhone away from power and cell towers is merely an interesting mirror or a useful brick. That tribesman made the phone valuable to herself, thus adding value.

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