“He who dies with the most toys wins.”

Or is that a baby boomer paradigm? A concept so alien to their children that it will disappear into the ether, like 8-tracks and cassettes, a construct that will flummox future generations.

George Carlin gained fame by pointing out our foibles, like our propensity to accumulate stuff. I’m a hoarder, I can barely throw anything out, but is that concept passe?

Just ask a millennial. Why have a car? Never mind an expensive one. You can just use Uber or public transportation. As to going fast in a sleek machine, where can you achieve those speeds, and to a generation brought up on safety, wearing helmets while riding tricycles, the death-defying thrill of going a hundred miles an hour in an Italian sports car… That’s just not appealing. Kind of like extreme sports themselves, they’re dying. The X Games pushed the envelope in the 1990s, today snowboarding is failing, that’s old man’s stuff, skiing is where it’s at.

But not as much as video games. Used to be you had to own the latest console. Now you just whip out your smartphone, or boot up your computer. Furthermore, we don’t even need the latest smartphone or computer. If your phone has LTE, it’s good enough. And no one’s overpaying for the latest speedy computer chip, tricked-out gaming PCs like Alienware were once the rage, now you never hear about them.

CDs. Like vinyl before them, they demonstrated your identity. The wall in your abode could be perused to delineate your tastes. But now it’s all about playlists, who’d want to own all that dreck when you can access whatever you want online?

Kind of like books and magazines. They’re stories and articles. You can get those on electronic devices.

And why buy a bigger house when you’ve just got to heat it, never mind cool it. It’s the antithesis of green. And millennials are almost all environmentalists.

Could it be that the culture of consumerism, which has driven the engine of America, is history? Or to the degree it survives, is it purely virtual? Manufacturing went overseas, we live in a service economy. Once you have the tools to access your data, do you really need anything else?



Access… Smartphone, laptop and flat screen.

After that, you’re done.

Life is about experiences. Whether you’ve traveled to Asia more than whether you’ve added to your house and drive a fancy car.

This is a sea change which the baby boomers resist. Oh, they’ve got all the new electronic toys, but they cling to the old ones too, because they’re afraid if they forgo them, they’ll lose their status. But young ‘uns are more about being members of the group than separating themselves therefrom. It’s who you know as opposed to what you’ve got.

Sure, there are exceptions. Fashion is burgeoning. Baby boomers wore their bell bottoms and BVDs, kids have a cornucopia of outfits, which are not only cheap, but evidence their style, which is super-important.

Could it be that the game has changed to such a degree that oldsters cannot play because they don’t understand it?

Could there be a generation gap equivalent to the one separating the boomers from their parents?

Just think about it. Snapchat is the rage and it disappears!

So instead of building that mansion you’re better off downsizing. Spending that money on trips and meals, ever notice that kids snap photos of their food as opposed to their apartments?

Physical items are souvenirs. Not to be of use so much as mementos of experiences. They will not die, but they’re certainly fading in importance.

“George Carlin Talks About ‘Stuff'”

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  1. […] you read the Letsetz Letter? You should. Physical items, Bob Letsetz wrote a recent post about “Stuff”, are “fading in […]

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  1. […] you read the Letsetz Letter? You should. Physical items, Bob Letsetz wrote a recent post about “Stuff”, are “fading in […]

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