down with the new, in with the old.

Times Square Visualization Map


i like new stuff. new t-shirts. i like second-hand shops mind you, but there is something about buying something new. the crackling of the paper when you unwrap it. the accomplishment of working hard to earn my favorite thing. the ability to wear it and show it off to people. it makes me feel good about myself. new things do that. new ideas. new friends. new clothes. new information.  the new makes us feel important, there is a sense of achievement in the new.

Semiologist Roland Barthes critiques the culture of the ‘new’ by saying its not simply a fad to ‘buy into’ the new next thing, but that is demonstrates a lot about the direction of our value system as a society. where we’re headed and where we’ve come from. when you think about it in this light, the hunger for new things becomes more like a mirror and less like a fad that might fade. if that’s true, we have to begin to ask really hard questions about ourselves and our culture. and if we start asking them, we might find answers we aren’t ready to hear.
why? why do we like the new?
 in a society where some people define status by whether you can afford the next new thing (ex: ipod, ipad, hybrid honda, abercrombie & fitch and etc.), we seem to have this inner calling towards the light(s). the bright lights. like moths to a flame we run. we run to the clearance aisles to find something name-brand to make us feel accepted. having the new thing makes us feel acceptable. gives us value. value also gives us purpose. purpose gives us drive to keep going. to stay alive. if we have no purpose, some think ‘why live?’ i think this is an incredibly important thing to realize, that the new thing isn’t about the new thing its about us.
its about our value.
its also how and what we think about ourselves.
the new thing gives us status. and that status is currency. currency to get more value. currency to keep trying to fill the holes with other new stuff. we can choose to use the new thing and become an junkie or use it to help others. liking the new thing may not be so wrong if we are willing to confess that the new thing isn’t about the new thing. if we can somehow use our status to help someone else, well then, by all means, do so. it’s like Bono said, celebrity is a currency and i want use it for good.
this does’t mean that we go through life victimizing ourselves. it means we still deal with the after-effects of what the new thing can do to any of us if we agree with it. if we agree that we can’t live without the next new thing, then we need to deal with that issue. if we agre that the new thing gives us purpose than we might need to ask why. the deeper we go into these questions the more we realize that the new thing isn’t as important as we make it. and its also not as important as it makes us feel.
we might need new patches, you know the ones they make for cigarette smokers. we might need to slowly ween ourselves off of this illusion of the feel good drag that is getting the next new thing. it will change your life. it will change mine. it will hopefully reduce consumerism. which will in-turn change how we treat buyin and selling, than also how we treat the earth, time and relationships. one decision can change all that. yep, it sure can!

The New is not a fashion, it is a value.
Roland Barthes

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