My wife got an Iphone last week, subsequently I got her Blackberry. This all came about as my old flip phone finally died. Welcome to 2010, Russ. And as I drove away from the store, with my new phone (the Blackberry), a devise that is not an embarassment, I somehow felt more valid.
Things didn’t used to have this power. A hundred years ago, before consumer culture dominated our actions, things were things. Plastic and mental and aluminum that eventually wore down and broke. They didn’t have the power to grant feelings of meaning.
I can only imagine the day when I drive away from a store with an Iphone, the ultimate symbol of validity in our culture. I suppose I’ll feel super valid and current. Then a few weeks later it will inevitably become just my phone and I’ll need to buy something else.
Here’s a great article over at Q Ideas about these sorts of thoughts on consumerism and meaning. Here’s a teaser from the article:
“Before the reign of Queen Elizabeth, noble families were selective of their purchases; they reserved the consumption of goods only for items that would benefit the family’s name and legacy. New goods were not considered valuable, only old ones that stood the test of time. The change to enthusiastic spending by the nobles sparked a change in history — and in mentality — when items began to be purchased for personal meaning instead of family heritage. In other words, people began to consume goods in order to have value, specifically in the Queen’s court.” (Jason Locy)