I’ve become increasingly aware lately of the sheer mindlessness with which we spend money. I think the straw that broke the camel’s back in my awareness landed a few days ago when the iPhone 6 came out. Thousands of people worldwide were camping out in front of Apple Stores. A simple Google search revealed that people pitched tents in Boston, Houston, Chicago, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Manhattan, and Dayton, just to name a few American cities.
Around the world it was much the same. In London, 100 people who were camping out in front of their particular phone store were surveyed (the article made it sound like more than 100 were present!) and 67% believed the iPhone was a “good value.”
Here at home, from my cell provider (AT&T), the iPhone is $649.
If you didn’t catch that, let me type it again, longways this time.
Six Hundred and Forty-Nine Dollars.
I could almost make two mortgage payments with that kind of money.
Perhaps someone should have asked, “A good value compared to what?”
In Perth, Australia, the first person to purchase an iPhone, in his zeal to reveal it to the reporter who asked for a look-see, promptly dropped the thing face-down on the concrete, among the collective gasps, derisive laughter, and expletive-laden exclamations of onlookers.
I wonder if that was a good value?
In Sydney, Australia, a California couple became the first people in the world to own an iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. They ordered the things online and TOOK A PLANE to Sydney, simply so they could say they were among the first to grab the latest model. There he is above, in all his arrogant, Yankee glory, nostrils flared and hands raised in victory. At least his girlfriend had the sense to look sheepish.
I simply can’t fathom why that sort of thing is important to them. I wonder if they will do it again in a couple of years when the next model comes out?
How many people, I wonder, are actually buying an iPhone 6 because their current phone is wearing out, broken, or desperately in need of updating? And by “updating,” I mean they’re still using a clamshell phone, or they have one of those clunky nineties models that don’t fit in your purse or pocket or the operating system is just too ancient to work with today’s technology kind of “updating.”
It’s enough to give this forty-something wicked Teddy Ruxpin, Cabbage Patch, and Tickle Me Elmo flashbacks.
Perhaps that’s it. This “Teddy-Tickle-Me-Cabbage” Generation grew up with it. How many of these individuals begged their parents for the latest craze until the hapless adults descended, en masse, upon toy stores and shopping malls, pushing and smacking each other to obtain the latest thing to be shoved under the bed or left outside in the rain or thrown, stained and headless, into the attic? How many of their parents bid outrageous amounts on eBay for these toys? How many parents came home without one, whatever it was, and was greeted on Christmas morning with “I hate you!”? What if they were successful in wrestling from some harried shopper whatever polyester-clad, fuzzy plastic gewgaw they were after and their children responded with “This is the wrong color!” or “I TOLD you I wanted the one with Kung-Fu grip!”?
Is that really what’s happening here? Are our spending habits stuck in the 80’s? If so, that’s rather sad, for our prices certainly aren’t. Do we (and I mean we, collectively) think we have that much disposable income that we fork over $649 without a thought because that’s what our parents did during the age of shoulder pads, enormous hair, and reckless overspending? Have we a grossly overdeveloped sense of entitlement? Where did it come from? What fuels it? It’s as if, as consumers, we’re stuck on a toy rocking horse, rocking furiously, the springs constantly whispering their chant, “There must be something else to buy! There must be something else to buy!”
I will be the first to admit to being tethered to my cell phone. Granted, I am an Android user, but the shackles are much the same. I text my husband, son, and mother regularly. I have even been known to text my son that dinner is ready so I don’t have to leave the kitchen. I read Harry Potter FanFiction. I play MahJongg. I’m even trying a 30-day trial of KindleUnlimited to see if it would be worth spending the ten bucks a month. I snap photos of the dog’s “cute-to-me-but-not-likely-the-rest-of-the-world” moments and post them on Facebook like some deranged doting grandmother.
But to purchase the next phone (read nonessential appliance) as soon as it comes out? Not this gal.
Every phone I’ve ever gotten from my provider I’ve spent $30 or less for. Most of the time they were free. In one case I actually waited to upgrade until the phone I was after was free from AT&T. It was an LG Phoenix, and for my meager purposes, it was well worth the wait.
I wonder how long it will take people to realize we’re not in the 80’s anymore. Until then, I shall simply marvel at those who continue down this road of mindless spending.