According to Baudrillard, a satisfied human would be utterly asocial, literally unable to partake in society. Dissatisfaction is the motor of all engagement and thus your social role is to be a dissatisfied consumer.
For the last few months, I have been satisfied and asocial. I have wanted for nothing. No technological knick-knack seduced me, no popular song entranced me, at no point did I want to comment on a person’s blog or email an old friend. I showed all the signs of drowning in a catatonic depression.
Now, after shrugging off the blues with a combination of yoga, health food and the Tao Te Ching, I feel the unmistakable stirrings of the desire to consume. It is my birthday soon and, in anticipation, I have been thinking about upgrading my creaking iBook for one of the new Intel Macs.
I initially fancied the Mac Mini, which I thought cheap and adaptable, but was then seduced by the MacBook. Unfortunately, the MacBook has a funny keyboard and a too-shiny screen, so now I’m plumping for the iMac which, though not without its critics, seems to provide a happy medium between the other two.
The problem with these thoughts is that they create a phrenzy of distraction. This morning, for instance, I was incapable of obtaining the mental focus I need for yoga.
TÃ¸r Norretrander’s dangerous idea in Edge.org’s survey was the idea that all well-being is based on social relativity rather than wealth. That is, if you’re doing better than your neighbour/relative/acquaintance you’ll feel relatively happier no matter how deprived your area is. This is dangerous because it leads to indifference (pleasure?) to other people’s poverty, which brings disease and crime, making everyone worse off. Obviously, I’m still going to buy the computer if I can afford to, but the act of purchase will be tempered with “liberal communism”.