Monday, March 21, 2011

The fear of missing out... reluctance to be a "have not"... and self-identification

As part of my erratic fast from consumption... I have been considering some of the motivating factors for why I want stuff.

On Saturday... Olly, the we'ans and I took a wee trip on the train to Edinburgh. I consciously chose the train because it meant we could have a relaxing journey. It's cheaper than the car too, which was an added incentive. Oh and I had a voucher from the disruption due to the snow.

We had a lovely trip to Auld Reekie... the weather was chilly but everyone enjoyed the donder around the wee boutiques that make up Cockburn Street and the Grassmarket... as well as having a lovely lunch in the Elephant House.

Anyway... we ended up in John Lewis... Olly needed a bigger nossil for her icing bag and I love looking at kitchen appliances (seriously... I do). Whilst on the ground floor I found the Kindle and was ooohing and aaahing at it.

I showed it to Olly and, well, she tore a strip off me. Afterall, as she pointed out and I was fully aware, it was only six months since she had bought me the iPad.

Instead of sulking... I took to pondering why I want a Kindle so much.

I have legitimate reasoning... a single-function bookreader, it is very good at what it does...

...and having one would protect the investment I have made in case Apple, in their insanity, drive off Amazon with their 30% mark-up...

...and the screen on the iPad is reflective, especially in a train...

...and, well, you get the gist.

One thought that came firmly to mind was the fear of missing out... and my reluctance to be a "have not".

I hate the thought of missing out... I want to have... and don't want to be a "have not"... or at least, I don't want to be seen as a "have not" in the areas I want to participate in.

For me... mobile technology is one such area. I have my iPhones, iPods, MacBook Pro, iPad, Nintendo DS and PSP... as well as my cameras. I take considerable pleasure in these things... for what they are and what they enable me to do. What's more... I like to be "seen" as the type of person who has and uses these things.

I recognise and acknowledge that... for me... these things are part of who I see myself. I self-identify with them.

I see the Kindle as part of this.

I love my brand new Vauxhall Meriva... but am not a car person and don't self-identify with it... unlike mobile technology.

This self-identification is why I always carry a bag full of my toys pretty much everywhere i go... I have my iPhones and iPods on my desk at work or beside me on the sofa in the living room... It also explains why a "digital fast" would be an absolute nightmare for me - I can't handle not having these items beside me because I would feel stripped of their associated significance.

I guess this fear of losing that which we self-identify with is at the heart of the battle for our self that is embodied in minimalism and, to a lesser extent, appropriate-ism.

Let's be clear... in one sense, the material / physical sense... I don't need a Kindle. But in another sense... in a psychological / mental sense... I do.

It is, therefore, in this psychological realm that I need to focus my time and efforts as I seek to move beyond and away from this self-identification.

That's where it's hard... because I care what people think.

That last sentence was extremely difficult to type... but it's true

...for certain things.

For me to reject consumption... and the self-identification that underpins it... I need to move to a place where I do not self-identify with these external material things but with internal mental and spiritual qualities.

Imagine if I were to fully internalize and identify with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Imagine if these qualities were the things I wanted people to see in me?

I would rather be known as good, kind, joy-filled, loving and peaceful gentleman... who had a thing for music and design... which was aided and enabled by material things

...than an Apple Fanboy or design geek.

I don't think it is mutually exclusive... but I do think we need to get it in the right order.

This is what my Lenten journey has helped me to see... the need to get things in the right order.

I believe thankfulness and appreciation comes when we get things in the right order. When we shape what we have... by who we are...

rather than who we are being shaped by what we own... or... what we don't own.

It is a journey.

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