Buying Instead of Doing

There’s a lot about our consumer culture that worries and, sometimes, shocks me. Sometimes things even worry me. Like this: Lately I’ve noticed that things are becoming substitutes for actual experiences. We’ve taken to buying rather than doing. I see this in every sector, but it seems to be extremely prevalent in the sporting goods/outdoors category. It seems as though people are buying things and letting the things take the place of actually doing the activity. They buy top notch skis and call themselves skiers when they’ve never touched the slopes. They buy a basketball hoop and call themselves LeBron, even though they only played once. They buy tents and sleeping

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9 Responses to Buying Instead of Doing

  1. Carol says:

    I’ve been guilty of purchasing somethings in hopes that now owning the item would encourage me to use it, be it exercise equipment, cooking utensils, office supplies, or even some clothing…at least when I do purchase these hoped-to-be-frequently-used items, I get them at a discount, and they are far from being top of the line.

  2. Fanny says:

    This is hilarious and so true. My husband is an avid photographer and he takes pictures everyday and works hard and crafting his skill. Whenever people see his photographs they always comment, “nice camera” instead of “nice photography skills”. People assume it’s the equipment and not the skill that makes a great photo. And we come across a lot of people who buy really expensive, top photography equipment but they don’t know how to use it to take good photos. Go figure. Instead they just gloat about “gear” they have.

  3. t says:

    Fanny, the nice camera bit sounds like a coworker of mine who does photography as a side business. He told me that people often comment about how good his camera is instead of his photography skills.

    I have had the buying instead of doing syndrome happen to me a bunch. Examples I can remember would be a 250cc dirt bike, rollerblades, and video games. While I was working on a graduate degree, I had a music instrument hobbie. It got pretty bad I had about $50K music worth of gear, but barely anytime to mess with it.

    Hoping my DSLR doesn’t turn into a buying instead of doing experience.

  4. whitestripe says:

    i agree with most of what you’ve said but not the things like buying a basketball hoop and buying camping gear. we have two snowboards and camping gear, and probably camp twice a year and BF snowboards once a year. that is not subsituting money for experience though, in my opinion. when we camp, we have a big group of friends and we go to an island for a couple of days where there is nothing. BF goes on an annual (or once every two years sometimes) snowtrip with friends, usually overseas. he has spent probably $2k on his equiupment, and is an excellent boarder. these snowtrips last for two weeks to a month. we might have spent a few hundred dollars on camping gear and only get to use it once in a blue moon, but that does not mean we dont get an experience out of it when we do use it. i think this goes for a lot of people.

  5. baselle says:

    Very true. A poor craftsman blames his tools. But two other effects might be at work here:

    1.) Buy quality fear. Its the cheapest man that pays the most. Isn’t that what is hammered into us?

    2.) Buying the expensive, top-of-the-line to forces us to pursue what we got the item for. Or it turns an elliptical machine into the most expensive clothes rack in the world.

  6. Carl says:

    Dave thanks for pointing out another modern condition. I’ve been guilty of this syndrome on several occassions. It is certainly true that just because you have the best brushes does not make you Pablo Picasso.

  7. Panda Bear says:

    Here’s what I do: Instead of spending tons of money on all that gear just to let it clutter up my home, instead, I go to the local thrift shops and buy all of their really pretty shiny trophies for next to nothing and display them in a very prominent location of my home so that visitors can’t miss seeing and admiring them! Almost all of them I have even had my own name added by using an inexpensive engraving tool!
    NOW THAT’S SAVING!

  8. AdamCO says:

    You’ve definitely touched on something I think a lot about. I think your assumption that people buy fancy equipment because they think that makes them good or to “show off” seems a bit jaded.

    I think that all of us really want to be great at something. We don’t have time but we have lots of money. So, like you say, we buy some fancy product to accomplish a hobby we want to take up. I think that this product is always bought with the sincere intention of becoming accomplished in whatever craft it represents. So rather than mock those who buy but cannot do, I just feel bad that we don’t have more time in our lives to accomplish those things that we find meaningful.

    I love the wii. The wii isn’t a substitute for sports, it’s a substitute for movies or crossword puzzles.

  9. Gail says:

    Oh goodness, please don’t discourage people from buying top of the line products for ‘non’ hobbies! How would I find all that incredibly cheap sewing stuff at and yard and thrift sales if not for people who bought it and then one day cleaned it out. I had fun beading a gift this Christmas, a craft I would have never taken up on my own except that someone gave my hubby’s aunt the stuff and she passed it on to me.

    A frugal person takes advantage of people who buy and then don’t use and inevitably someday my sewing room contents will be up for sale and someone will think I had a ‘hobby’ and never actually used my stuff. In reality I have made many, many craft and home projects plus make most of my own clothes and I don’t turn down give aways so I have plenty of hobby supplies stashed away and will never be able to use them all. I’d weed stuff out, but I never know what I will need next.

    I have been seeing this a lot lately also as I have been looking for a second sewing machine. Many ladies put them up for sale with minimum sewing time on these incredibly expensive machines–because they don’t have time to use them, they have a baby so don’t figure they will have time to sew for years, etc. Amazing to me. I had babies and I sewed with them around. I worked and I sewed. I’m chronically disabled by arthritis and I still find ways to sew.

    You will always find time to do what is important to you to do. But, I’m still happy for the sewing stash rejects that I find!

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