Monday, July 17, 2006

Then again...

...we males have been known to exhibit a weakness for carrying around items that are just slightly pricier than bats or even most handbags....

(see previous post for origination of this thread)


Anonymous said...

So what is your point? Are we supposed to just sit here, by your logic, contemplating our navels, or maybe your blog? If you go out and buy yourself a nice bag or a nice car to feel better, isn't that the ACTION kind of self-help you're telling people to pursue, instead of the empty, talky kind-- like your blog?

Cosmic Connie said...

Steve, I think the first person who commented on your first post on this subject said it best – people use overpriced stuff as a way of saying, "Look at me! Don't you wish you were me?”

The wish to turn heads -- to be envied and/or desired – seems to be a human trait. I guess everyone has this trait, and marketers take full advantage. Which is probably why there are so many ugly overpriced handbags on the market, and why so many fools are driving Hummers...and, for that matter, why there are so many hideous faux-stucco McMansions being built in the fine old neighborhoods in my city. Marketers have convinced many of us that we can convey our superiority by flaunting “stuff” instead of actually achieving something – and lord knows it’s a lot easier to go out and buy a “nice bag or a nice car” than it is to sit down and write a blog or a book.

PS – In response to a remark you made in your first post…I got overlooked when they were passing out the shoe gene. I dislike shoes and do not wear them unless I absolutely have to. And then it’s flip-flops, if I can get away with it. Good thing I live in the subtropics.

Steve Salerno said...

Con, I understand that people think that buying glitzy stuff will get them noticed... But I still don't get the self-delusional part of it--i.e., by what contortion of logic do they persuade themselves that this stuff that they buy somehow accrues to the personal enrichment of the THEM of them? If you get my drift.

I'll give you an example. Once, flushed with the excitement of landing a nice book deal (and also having just turned 40), I went out and bought--yep--a Corvette. And yeah, I did all the embarrassingly cliched stuff, like look around to see who was noticing me when I pulled into a gas station (and then, later, pulling out of the gas station into traffic at a wholly inappropriate speed). In other words, I was a moron. Until one day it occurred to me that *I* wasn't going fast--the *car* was going fast. Anybody else who got into that vehicle and pressed down on the accelerator would get the same exact result. *I* didn't have a removable glass roof; the *car* did. (And really, with the popularity of leasing and the like, lots of people could've had that same car.) So how did the capabilities of the car really reflect on ME, as a person and a man (except to reveal me as a shallow, self-aggrandizing fool)? Maybe the event that LED to the acquisition of the car--the writing of the book--said something about my value as a person (and I'm not even sure about that, for reasons having to do with my basic determinist beliefs). But the car, per se, didn't.

I guess, to follow the theme established in my previous post, it's the equivalent of going out and buying fake peacock feathers and wearing them around so people will think, poof, you're a peacock! Am I making any sense here...or did I finally have that TIA that seems to run in my family?

Cosmic Connie said...

First of all, forget the TIA, Steve; you're making perfect sense. I doubt if most people who lust for the latest gadgets or accessories or cars are driven by rationality. I think we humans have an endless capacity for self-delusion, and logic has little to do with it.

Let's not forget that buying stuff, like going to self-help seminars, can be a form of entertainment. In fact, many people are deeply into personal growth / self-help AND buying stuff, particularly cars. I even know of self-help gurus whose names I will not mention, who use their own material wealth as a way to sell their shtick. Somehow they always manage to flaunt their latest purchases, with the covert message being, "I got this snazzy new phallus-mobile, and you can get one too if you give me gobs of money and take my seminar."

I really think that for many, the endless acquisition of material things is a buffer against real problems, even if it actually exacerbates those problems by getting one deeper in debt. Shopping is another one of those things that humorist Joe Bob Briggs once described as, "Things we do to forget we're doomed." I guess you could say that procuring status handbags or cars or other things is as much a shield against oneself as it is a desire to be noticed or envied.

OTOH, sometimes people do get genuine pleasure out of material things, as you surely must have when driving your Corvette. My b.f. is a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast who currently rides a 2000 Moto Guzzi Jackal that gives him a lot of pleasure -- and for him it has nothing to do with status-consciousness. (If he were status-conscious, he would have bought a Harley. If he were more conscious of passenger comfort, he might have considered one of BMW's cruising models (I would never expect him to burden himself with a Honda Gold Wing)...oh, but that's another topic altogether. :-))

Rodger Johnson said...

Okay...I admit my weakneses are clothes, cars and electronics...good thing I'm not as wealthy as our good friend T. Robbins.

I want my Kulhman dress shirts, my ipod, and a Pontiac Soltace. Instead, I settle for an Eddie Bauer dress shirt bought at an outlet mall, a walkman, and my Dodge. On all of which I own nothing -- peace of mind and that extra buck in the bank is better than the bling of the latest and greatest -- for what? To entice envy ...

By the way, Steve, you serious 'bout that Louisville Slugger find? How did you authenticate it?

And, you make an excellent point about the Vette. How come you never drove that to IU?

When you goosed the Vette, did your wife ever say with a sigh, "Boys! and their toys."

Mine does :-)