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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How the Grinch went online and bought Xmas

I just heard this morning on the radio that recent online sales numbers are through the roof.

I predicted in college (while we were still in the 1900s) that the brick-and-mortar store would be nearly obsolete in the course of time. I think there will always be a place for touching and feeling our stuff before we buy, but it is interesting to contemplate the effects of virtual shopping: The personal merchant is a thing of the past. Relationship no longer has any place in the market. The market square is gone. Now commerce is increasingly becoming a capitalistic control mechanism: We only buy stuff that is priced the lowest. In other words, the human element has been replaced by a virtual market place where supply and demand is always in perfect balance.

This further separates human beings from one another....this is certainly has negative consequences.....on the other hand, maybe if we don't ever see each other we won't fight as much. After all, aren't all conflicts economical in nature???

6 comments:

Melody said...

I think you have the wrong focus here. The real problem is the huge shipping fee you get with purchase.

Why exactly is it important for us to have a relationship with the person who sells us something?

What's wrong with getting a good deal?

This further separates human beings from one another

Or it gives us more time to be with people we actually care about instead of the irritating sales associate who tries to sell you something you neither want nor need?

Jonathan Erdman said...

Melody,

I guess I'm thinking a bit farther back, prior to the craziness that is our Consumeristic American Society. For example, if you lived in Warsaw/Winona Lake, Indiana a hundred years ago--or even less, I imagine--you would not be dealing with irritating sales associates at the mall who are only interested in a sale. To buy the stuff you need (a hundred years ago people primarily bought stuff they needed, not crap they didn't need) you would visit the local merchant in his local store. You would deal with a person. Furthermore, the person was a member of your community, perhaps even a fellow church member or neighbor or even a relative. Commerce was conducted within a community where the relationships were intertwined in a mercantile matrix. As such, the exchanging of goods and services was not purely a self-serving enterprise, nor was it something isolated to the individual. It was a give-and-take amongst members of a community and it further strengthened the bond between people.

As opposed to a close community and a complicated matrix of relationships, our society is very, very fragmented. We satisfy our individual needs in a myriad of environments that are very disconnected from each other. The result (no surprise) is the lack of the ability to preserve stable and long-lasting relationships in any area of life. Any surprise we get divorced the majority of the times we get married? Or that nobody really knows their children or can control their behavior? Or that we can't maintain long-term, authentic relationship even with friends?

Emily said...

We satisfy our individual needs in a myriad of environments that are very disconnected from each other. The result (no surprise) is the lack of the ability to preserve stable and long-lasting relationships in any area of life.

So you're saying that if we could connect every aspect of our lives, we would finally live in a utopian state?

Application: Work, live, play, and breathe with the same people. Don't dare add a new friend or activity to your life... don't disrupt the system! That seems psycho.

Melody said...

I guess I'm thinking a bit farther back...a hundred years ago

So...back to something none of us was around to experience so we could know if it was better or not?

Furthermore, the person was a member of your community, perhaps even a fellow church member or neighbor or even a relative.

I can only imagine that this would be worse.

You'd have to buy things from one person versus another better person based on family ties and guilt.

Avonlea is cute to read about, but Anne can keep it. I would die.

The result (no surprise) is the lack of the ability to preserve stable and long-lasting relationships in any area of life.

I don't think that's true. I still keep in touch with friends I made when I was three. Not all the friends I made when I was three, but who wants to be limited to only knowing people they knew when they were children? Who really wants to grow up to be Rachel Lynd casting a suspicious eye at all newcomers to town?

Emily: That seems psycho.

Yes. Yes it does.

Dawn said...

I think that's why the Slow Food idea has taken off. In general, it says to buy food locally (get to know and support where your food comes from) and to cook & eat with others.

It's a neat idea. Taking time to buy locally forms a bond between buyer and merchant. Cooking and eating together not only means we're eating healthier, but we're actually talking to each other! *gasp*

In response to Melody, the downsides of getting a good deal (at least where food is concerned) is that we're damaging God's creation (both the Earth and our bodies) with pesticides.

It may cost more money now, but I believe it'll cost less in health costs for the future.

Melody said...

In response to Melody, the downsides of getting a good deal (at least where food is concerned) is that we're damaging God's creation (both the Earth and our bodies) with pesticides.

Oh I'm all for organic and all that - but even within that market some places will still have a better deal.