These days you can’t throw a dwarf without hitting someone preaching than you should value experiences over things. It is continuously the case that a certain, but changing, personality type dominates the culture in terms of what should be desirable—I can’t wait until my preferences rises to the mainstream; some years ago, it was the spontaneous crowd that ruled the day. Carpe Diem. Seize the day! Apparently the reasoning was that any action was great as long as it wasn’t planned.
Now the current paradigm is that experiences are so much better than things… Perhaps it would be helpful to step back and consider that everything really is an experience. A thing, as well, is experienced on some level, so in the following an experience typically denotes some kind of event isolated in time and not earned knowledge of certain things… and that the people who revel in experiences like travel, movies, concerts, and so on consider themselves so much more enlightened, kinda like the crowd of yesteryear who thought it might be a good idea to spontaneously, oh say, self-combust, because that would surely be craaaaaazy, yay?!
Now, I say that may be fine for whoever in inherently into experiences and unintelligent for those who go along. Not all experiences are inherently better than things. Some of the things I own makes my life better on a daily basis unlike pretty much all the memories, I don’t think about it. (DW will probably say that that’s just because I’m getting senile.) Hence, events are all sunk expenses unless they can be brought forth; and when it comes down to it, how much is the memory of some old event worth? To what extent does it enrich my current life? For me, not a whole lot. Experiences as entertainment are not better than things as entertainment. In fact, from an economic perspective they are worse, since they can not be sold. Also they come with the typical lifestyle inflation. Once you have experienced E, you want to experience E+1. It gets more and more exotic. It seems that the popularization of experiences is one more way of extracting money from people on the service level, although you can of course devise your own experiences. However, in this case I think it moves from event-experience to knowledge-experience: something which I value much higher.
Hence the politically correct notion of valuing experiences over things does not hold for me. I suppose the experience crowd gets a lot of traction from people, who are past-oriented, you know the type who has tons of family albums, who do genealogy, and still talk about the war (you know the war I’m talking about, yes?). This is about one third of the population. But many others just go along, because it’s fashionable; not because it is right for them.
Originally posted 2009-08-13 00:03:45.