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Sunday, January 9, 2011

day 6: consume, consume, consume, consume, con...

Consumer culture.

There, blog done.

No, seriously, consumer culture is a huge topic on my mind at any given time. It's probably one of the biggest pit falls of the "I don't have" headspace, and I'm as guilty of it as anyone, even while condemning it. The biggest challenge is that companies have gotten SO GOOD at twisting 'I wants' into 'I needs', it's like they bribed Webster (or for anyone born after 1990) to make the swap. They've gotten so good at it that they've taught their audience to do it for them. How often do you hear the phrase, "I would die with out my <blank>"? I bet most people would fill that space with a smart phone, but that's only the latest trend. I predict in 10 years (probably 5) there won't even be a phone without a data plan. Smart phones are just one more way of showing, you didn't need it until you had it and the companies are just laying down the path for us to walk.   

   Some will say that they know it's not a "need" they just SAY that. Well then listen to how you sound when you say it. Do you think the company would have you phrase it any differently? Does Apple even bother to advertise anymore, or do they just make front page any time someone whispers about a new product line? Truth is, we're all walking billboards and PR companies are paid big bucks to compete for your advertising space.

   This whole culture could be the topic (and certainly has been the topic) of many studies and essays, but my focus here is viewing the world of what we "don't have". In that respect, I have a confession. If you walk through my apartment it's pretty much packed with technology. Computer, 2nd monitor, XBox, 42" TV, studio reference monitors, digital preamps, 2nd XBox (don't ask), iPod touch, headphones, headsets, coffee makers, electric razors, printers, router, 2nd router (don't ask), please don't rob me, iPod dock, cell phone and a whole slew of musical gear (which are the only, moderately justifiable purchases). What else could I possibly need? Oh look! The new iPod touch has a freaking camera on it!

   I know, right?? That's why I want to be better. The funniest part of this is if I took away all of that technology (except my cell phone, I would DIE without my cellphone), my previous blog would have been EXACTLY the same (except I'd have no where to type it. The irony is not lost on me). Yesterday was rich with laughter, activity, communication and growth. We say we buy these things to enrich our lives, but when was the last time quality time with a friend was made better by them being on their blackberry? When was the last time your family became closer while sitting in front of a 50" flat screen? Though I love my "stuff" (and you all know you do) I think I'll try and find ways to use it to actually enrich my life. Like skyping my friend in San Francisco, playing video games with a group of guys (yelling at each other is bonding for guys), texting my friend that I'll be ten minutes late and not to worry. But NOT focussing on whether I need a TV that has 8" more viewing space, an extra XBox just because it's on sale (sigh), a toaster that has 4 slots instead of 2 for the one day a year a girl sleeps over or a new iPod app that helps with self-depricating humour.

   I'm sure someone has said all this better than I can, but this is my personal lesson and admonition. Especially around sales. Being poor, sales are like my crack. I do not need something just because it's %70 off! Although those tea cosies would look good in my kitchen...

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