My fifteen year old daughter asked me yesterday, “Dad, can we trade in Tara for a new puppy? We can sell her on eBay.” Tara is our eight year-old, slightly annoying, yellow lab. I was aghast at the suggestion. How could my daughter even consider trading in the old dog for a new puppy?
Welcome to the “new auction culture”. Cell phones are traded in every year or so. PCs last a couple years before we discard them and trade up to a faster microprocessor and bigger hard drive. Cars are leased for three years and then traded back in for a new model. When our email address starts getting too much spam, we just abandon it and get a new one (I should know, since I have nine different email addresses).
College students don’t keep their text books. When the semester is over they list them on websites that resell books such as Amazon (http://www.amazon.com) or Darple (http:www.darple.com). No sense hanging on to that unnecessary stuff when you can get cash instead. For that matter, college students also auction their old CDs, surf boards, and iPods. Who needs that stuff anyway?
Flash back a few years ago and you will remember when we repaired broken appliances and kept them for decades. My mom had an IBM typewriter—it was built like a tank and it worked for 30 years! We have a sewing machine that is over 60 years old—my wife doesn’t sew, but it is a family heirloom which is cherished. I think it is tucked away in a closet.
Daniel Nissanoff, author of the book “FutureShop”, suggests that a new “auction culture” will change the way we buy, sell, and use our possessions. According to Nissanoff, we have had an “accumulation society” for many years where permanent ownership of a product was very important. Today, we are adjusting to “temporary ownership” where we buy or lease the goods we want (some at prices we can’t even afford), and then sell them for optimal resale value when we tire of them.
Gone are the days of saving for years to make a special purchase and keeping it to pass down to the next generation. Instead, we just go buy it, use it, and discard it when the thrill is gone. No worries. Some might say this also applies to our jobs, since all we need to do is visit monster.com (http://monster.com) and get a new one. Or, if you tire of your current spouse, go visit eharmony.com (http://eharmony.com) to find a better one who is more compatible—can you say Sagittarius?
Welcome to the new normal. For my daughter’s generation, this is all they know: everything is disposable and replaceable—even the dog.
John Bradley Jackson
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