Mm—hold that thought.
I did what any normal person does who wants to shift a big bunch of units: I put an ad on Craigslist. It did not escape me that many other people have apparently had this thought as well. In fact, there’s a whole category on CL for selling cd/dvd/vhs, and another category for selling books. And there were plenty of ads up already.
Still, I didn’t sweat it too much. I figured I had really good stuff, and new besides, and I was asking very little, just $4 or $5 for a new DVD, and a lot less per disc for multi-disc sets. CDs are $3 ech, 4 for $10. I hoped I’d be able to withstand the barrage of phone calls. The books I figured I’d do later, once the initial frenzy had died down.
You can see where this is going. No one has called. Meanwhile, more ads are going up on CL every day.
All of which has gotten me to wondering: have people become less materialistic? It seems hard to believe, but… at least in this way, in the obsessive collecting-of-media way that was so prevalent when I was in, say, college—when people hoarded records and books, and VHS wasn’t even invented yet, never mind DVD or blu-ray? Does this newest generation of consumers, the ones growing up on downloaded tunes and movies and TV shows and Kindle, have no need for physical, tangible, material objects in order to focus their attention? (Games too, I guess, though I don't have much experience with or attention for games.) And if so, is this a good thing, or does the loss of the tangible object somehow represent a lessening of involvement with the song/movie/book it represents?
I remember buying records—or later, CDs—and poring over the cover art, the inserts, the liner notes. A DVD would have production info on the back cover, plus a few choice stills, and if you were luck, a nifty booklet inside with some nugget of trivia. A book, well, a book had a cover, and pages, and everything. And you never had to worry about its battery running down or its software becoming out of date.
I don’t mean to be an old fart who bemoans the artefacts of his past. Life moves on, I get it. Last year I independently published a fantasy eBook, and I’ve downloaded my share of songs from Amazon and instant-view movies from netflix and Hulu. But I still like stuff. I like things I can hold. I like comic books I can spread open before me and a CD insert I can linger over while listening to the song. Apart from making me seem horribly old-fashioned and out of touch, I wonder if this also makes me shallowly materialistic compared to people who have found a way, like Buddha, to jettison those desires.
Then again maybe not. Maybe they’re just as grasping as I am, just for different things. I don’t care about the latest phone or the nicest car or the trendiest clothes. Plenty of people do. Maybe we all share the impulse to acquire; it’s just the details of what we’re acquuiring that have shifted a bit in my lifetime.