[NOTE: The following was written in April 2013]
I got a new keyboard yesterday.
My old, cheap one was having rollover issues while gaming (if you don’t know what that means, don’t worry about it), so I did some research and picked up this one:
Pretty good experience so far, but that isn’t the point of this post (if it can even be said to have one — this is more brain droppings than anything else).
Now, classically, one would expect me to finish reading this post and then regard my new keyboard as one of those examples of “promiscuous spending on stuff that doesn’t really add a whole lot to my life.”
Here’s the thing, though; I don’t.
It’s not as though I think the Raptitude post is mumbo-jumbo crap — it isn’t. His assertions about how our lifestyles have been “designed” has a whiff of unwarranted conspiracy-theory about it, true. But regardless of the cause, the effect seems pretty clear — a whole lot of people are buying a lot of stuff, most of which isn’t that important to them, to maximize their enjoyment (or so they believe) of their free time. And they’re ultimately ending up less happy and less fulfilled for it.
My desk is surrounded by stuff that seems indicative of that trend. The keyboard is the newest addition, but there’s also a dual-monitor setup, one of which is a 26-inch HDTV, and a pair of $150 Bose headphones (laugh at me all you want, but if you think that investment has no value, you’ve never worn cheap headphones for several hours on end — it actually becomes physically painful).
Now doubtless, there are ultimately better places my money could go, like charity to the homeless — and some of it has, though probably not as much as it should, gotta work on that. But it’s pretty rare that I look at any of this stuff and think “man, that was a waste.” And I suppose the general trend is to buy stuff and then not think of it at all, which is the main problem Raptitude is talking about, but even that doesn’t accurately reflect my relationship these things. Once a week or so I actually take a second to think about this gear, and my thought process goes something like this: “You earned money and then spent it on something that improves your life in a small but substantial manner. Good job, self.” It may not be “serene Yogi”-style fulfillment, but there’s definitely a sense of fulfillment in that. And it doesn’t seem that different from the sense one gets from just being still, staying in the moment, and appreciating a sunny day. Or the sense I get when I take a few minutes and meditate, for that matter.
True, material possessions and luxury items shouldn’t be what’s capital-I Important to people when it comes to living well. But almost all of us reading this are going to have or acquire them anyway, and it certainly seems like there are good and bad ways of regarding them. And it certainly doesn’t seem like “don’t care about them” is the only good way to do so. Even if it’s the best way (it may or may not be), most of us aren’t going to do that, so we may as well come up with a way of spending disposable income that helps more than it hurts.
I suppose I should try to make an actual point here, shouldn’t I? Okay, let’s try this one; there seems (to me at least) to be a general attitude among those interested in living well that fulfillment and happiness have to be found in certain places or created in certain ways, and rarely do they involve, for example, technology. This may be a mistake, at least if my own experience is any indication. Maybe those little moments of fulfillment that everyone seems to be looking for can come from more places than we think.
And also, I now have an LED-backlit keyboard. So that’s just cool.