Tag Archives: consumption

The Hoarder Vs. The Purger: How Do You Appreciate What You Own Without Letting It Own You?

This will be a shorter post than usual because I am visiting my family for the week while John and I transition from “school home” to our “summer job home”. In the spirit of moving, I wanted to touch on a question that might occur to anyone who has ever had to pack up their belongings: How much stuff is too much stuff?

This is an example of what too much stuff looks like.

This past Saturday John and I handed back the keys to the basement suite we called home for our last two years of university life. Despite storing our books and dishes at a friend’s house, we still ended up with way more bags and boxes than our small car could possible hold. While I struggled to decide which pants I wore least often and how badly I would need those mason jars for canning, John had no qualms throwing out pretty much anything that he knew he wouldn’t need in the immediate future. He also jokingly called me a hoarder, knowing that it would get under my skin.

As I sat on my suitcase (in an attempt to keep as many of my clothes as possible), I thought back to a couple years earlier when almost all of my earthly possessions could fit into one suitcase. What is it that makes me hold onto things now so much more dearly than I did a few years ago? Continue reading

Some Frightening Things About Popular Technology

Frederick Jameson said that “Contemporary people alternate between states of euphoria and anxiety.”

Euphoria, perhaps, because that is one natural reaction to being in the state of perpetual stimulation and entertainment and comfort (at least objectively) that we, the middle class, experience. Every minute, 48 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube. Any thought of YouTube, really, or Hulu or Grooveshark, makes one realize how kind of horrifyingly immense is the amount of entertainment available to anyone with an internet connection.

Cyborgs are probably going to start showing up soon. Hopefully Jean Luc Picard will be among them (if we can get a non-evil version).

You could do nothing but read, watch, and play on the internet for the rest of your life and there would still be more things you hadn’t seen or read. Information has always been that vast – for at least the last few centuries – but never before has it been so readily available almost all the time. With smartphones and future developments like SixthSense, access to the internet is going to start feeling like an extra limb – something without which you will feel nervous and clumsy and limited. For some people, this is already true – think about most people who’ve owned a smartphone for more than a few months, or anyone in a fantasy football league, or the fact that a SecondLife Shakespeare Company exists.

In The Shallows (read a good reflection on the book at The Millions), Nicholas Carr speculates and muses about the various psychological, social, and cultural effects of more completely immersing ourselves in an environment made entirely out of nonphysical stimulation.

As a member of the first generation to really experience internet access (if you count AOL 4.0 as internet access) for our whole lives, I look to the future of the human brain with interest and horror.