Differential Diagnosis

I don’t consider myself an especially astute judge of character, yet for some reason, this interesting case arrived newly-minted on a bed of jasmine-scented rice. (Yes, pun intended). 

I have a friend, who for obvious reasons I won’t name or disclose age, gender or anything else the NSA already has. A new adopter. A rare but prominent social type, with whom I have limited experience, yet are always intriguing. The first to get the latest technology, to wear the latest kicks deemed cool by a website most of us have never heard of — the individual will claim to never have heard of said website in a few months — first to watch the latest hyped show, buy on vinyl (because digital is so bourgeois and who even buys CDs anyway?)… you get the idea.

The question, then, is why? Certainly, there’s a very socially relevant element to being the person who’s in the know when it comes to what’s new and potentially relevant. There’s the thrill of discovery, of carrying a secret just may become the next big thing, the next “Breaking Bad,” “Before Sunrise,” hell “Leaves of Grass.” But what is it that drives one to pursue endlessly the unattainable? The new becomes old the instant it’s discovered. Is it a lack of faith in the present? If so, that lack certainly seems justified. But then why not direct that energy toward changing what may seem an intolerable status quo? Is it a lack of faith in oneself? The quintessentially modern American belief in the golden future that awaits just beyond the hazy horizon of a Reagan-esque shining hill? 

Or maybe something deeper, a culture that valorizes novelty for its own sake. And — were that the case — what does it mean?

~ by Benji on May 7, 2014.

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