November 28, 2008


Blame Flat Screened TVs

I do. In my wee brain, I can trace the beginning of the end of this ridiculous consumer acquisition Olympics to flat screened televisions. It's front and centre again this week, because the ads have been tumbling in already.

I'll never forget an old family friend, her lips pursed together like a prune, storming around her kitchen snarking that today's young people were so out of line with reality. She was peeved that we (meaning people in their first apartment or home away from their parents) believed they should have a couch or TV. Let me correct that: she was appalled that any of them should believe they deserved to own new stuff - she herself hadn't had a new living room set until she'd been married 15 years.

I saw her point, to a point. We all had hand-me-downs from each other, until we all made the first foray into Low Quality High Price Shouty Ads Store and got seduced by new and shiny that cost 40 bucks a month.

But this lady was pissy because I mentioned that I'd purchased a microwave. Now, this was the later generation of microwaves, and I think it cost a hundred bucks. Early ones, you may recall, were as big as Oldsmobiles and cost upwards of $700. But I mentioned I'd picked one up. She fumed; I gently reminded her that 'this' generation (why is that such a swear word to some?) usually had both people working, and something like a microwave was indispensable to us.

I let it go. I knew what we could afford (very little) and what we actually purchased (very little), so I was good with my decisions. I've watched people keep their furniture covered in plastic for forty years to keep it nice. I don't get that about *that* generation, but whatever.

But one thing's for certain: electronics have gone from the 'want' to the 'need' pile in a heartbeat. Multiple gaming systems, computers, TVs, telephones - there's no such thing as too much.

And that's the bird that's come home to roost. We can blame the bankers, we can blame auto makers, we can blame government, we can blame outsourcing, we can blame hedge funds, we can blame the media. But you know what? It's our fault. Consumers knew better, and failed to do better. Guess what? You can't spend more than you earn. You can't. And yet, most of us have. People used to work hard to acquire a life they aspired to. Now, aspiring is enough, and you slap it on a credit card.

To me, flat screened TVs reflect the worst of a generation. Not everyone bought their kid $300 sneakers. Not everyone has a latte maker sitting on their granite countertop, and not everyone bothered with a hot tub. I'm aware that the signal will be changing in February for the older TVs, but this mad replacement started years ago. Remember when we used to wait for something to wear out before we replaced it? How quaint.

But read this: A Wal-Mart employee has been trampled to death in the early morning rush of people trying to shop before they've even processed their Thanksgiving turkey. Read the comments from people they've interviewed. People unemployed, or broke, making sure they get a new TV. And iPods. Is this for real? They don't know how they're going to feed their kids, but they need to make sure they get a deal on a TV? And it's apparently worth killing a man for?

Another stor
y in the NYT shows a twit of a woman bemoaning that in order to buy her daughter a boatload of crap for Christmas, she's had to forgo a pair of designer jeans for herself. Get a grip, NYT. Take a look at the pic - a garage already full of last year's discards, from the looks of it, with more garbage on it's way down the chimney for little Brittnee.

We've spent our way into Stupidville - and it's obvious many deserve to be there.

5 Comments:

Anonymous buzzwhack said...

This is a tricky one to dope out. To wit, you buy a new item hoping it will either die inside the warranty window or outlast your life span. Unfortunately, stuff made overseas is usually the former. I made a conscious decision years ago not to buy new unless it was necessary. The result is my house is full of older white goods devoid of stainless steel trim and LED displays. My hi fi is West German and still sounds fantastic, my car has a chassis and has door sheet metal thicker than a coke can.You won't ever be up to the minute trendy but if you buy with an eye towards classic styling and quality, you will do allright. I remember when made in Japan was considered a joke. Ever check out a 1980s Sony VCR player? Metal chassis, metal cover, actual steel drums.Mine still plays perfectly.

November 28, 2008 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Buzzwhack,

Isn't it a drag trying to rent Beta movies?

November 28, 2008 4:22 PM  
Anonymous buzzwhack said...

Nope, its a VHS player, not beta. My movie library is huge. No problems there.

November 28, 2008 5:19 PM  
Blogger DJ said...

I too am disappointed with today's quality of products.
My 70 GMC Panel Truck had over 300,000 miles on it when I scrapped it, my 85 Buick, over 500,000.
As for household appliance's, I'm certain there is planned obsolescence. We buy the best we can afford, and try to buy name brands, but even that is no guarantee of reliability anymore.
If you'd like to see more of my adventures in Appliantology, you can read my blog here: http://djwbee.blogspot.com/2008/08/l-ron-hoover-where-are-you.html

DJW

November 29, 2008 9:00 AM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

A pair of designer freakin' jeans is a sacrifice?

Come on... let's at least make an attempt at reality, people. This is too much.

As we speak, water is slowly draining from the gene pool.

November 29, 2008 10:47 AM  

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