Stuff We Don’t Even Own Owns Us

Good afternoon. Currently I am procrastinating instead of polishing the beginning of a funny/scary tale about near-future technology and its ability to help save the world from itself. I should be writing that, but instead I am writing this. At least I’ve tricked myself into still writing, either way.

The holidays are nearly upon us. I don’t know about you, but I’ve worked myself into a mania over the last month or so tracking the ephemeral deals and lightning-round sales on various sites. One even sent me an e-mail with the title “Black Friday III.” Really? Dear God, make it stop. I wish I could figure out what it is about the human brain that makes it delight so in participating in these annual orgies of consumerism.  It’s not even about other people, anymore.  I pretty much finished my gift list a while ago, but I’d still check in daily or hourly about whatever the latest video games Amazon was stuffing into its gold box of wonder.  Jane and I were in the market for a speaker-dock set for our– I mean, her– iPod, and we must have spent weeks comparing reviews and figuring out what the best deals might be.  At a certain point, the goods own you.  At a certain point, whatever money you might have saved has been far outspent by the time you’ve lost bargain-hunting, time you could have spent… I don’t know, creating your own video game!  Soldering together a home for your portable media player!  In the hordes of the commercially brainwashed, I am just one more footman, brandishing his plastic and searching the heavens for divine proclamations of discount.

Author: Jeff Deck

Author and administrator of this site.

  • Chris

    I wish I could figure out what it is about the human brain that makes it delight so in participating in these annual orgies of consumerism.

    It’s the part that is designed to keep us alive. Evolution provided us with an instinct toward being acquiring things that matter to us. (ie, hey there’s a piece of buffalo that will keep us alive,let’s get it.) In modern america, we’ve turned that switch on acquiring stuff we don’t really need (ie, hey is totally selling stuff at a great price!)

    That or we all just love that feeling of having a shiny new thing to play with.


  • Jeff Deck

    Heh, I think that sounds like a convincing theory, Chris. Hope you have a jolly holiday season!

  • Ric Anderson

    Dear Jeff,

    Let me begin by saying that I am thoroughly enjoying your book. I am an elementary school principal in Canada and received it as a Christmas gift from a Kindergarten teacher who understands my obsession with English…..really obsession with language in general. I also speak French and am constantly consulting les immortels from the French Academy. Alas! you must be one of the immortals in the English-speaking world!

    I wanted to inquire about a split infinitive on page 7 of your book, where you write “…The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this mission of mine would force me to continually confront strangers – oftentimes over their own mistakes!”

    So, what say you about this usage? It immediately jumped off the page and smacked me in the face!

    I await your response with interest.


    Ric Anderson