What a douchebag, I thought. This kid couldn’t have been older than 25, but he was wearing an Armani-branded t-shirt, Ray Ban sunglasses, and what had to be a $200 pair of jeans while hopping into his BMW. Status symbols, all of them. This dude had money and clout, and he wanted everyone to know it.
What a douchebag, I thought, wearing my own Ray Bans, checking my iPhone, carrying a backpack with an iPad. What a douchebag, indeed. The douchebag is me.
We all flout status symbols, no matter whether we’re conscious of it. Technology in general has become a status symbol for many. Own an Apple product? Chances are it’s at least partly because of what people will think when they see you with it. The same goes for the latest Android and more.
Even on more basic technologies, there’s an aspect of status built in. At the store the other day I was looking at stylish Ultrabooks from Lenovo. They looked nice, sure. But what separated them from other Ultrabooks? You wouldn’t know, of course, based on the display. Chances are most of us would pick the one that made us look the coolest.
(Which, for most people, will be the MacBook Air. I’d say that’s besides the point, but it really is the entire point.)
I’d like to think that the things I buy, from gadgets to books, are for my own benefit. But I know that’s not always true. Plenty of things we buy are to show people that we are cool enough to own them. It’s a pretty depressing thought.
Of course, I’d rather be depressed and aware than happy and ignorant. At least the depressed and aware can make changes.