Trip Start Oct 18, 2012
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We are learning an interesting topic in German school lately about electrical appliances and that got me thinking about what people need compared to what people really want. This is particularly pertinent around Christmas time with all the gift giving going on. This has been one of my poorest Christmas' in a long time because I haven't been working and unlike in Australia, I don't receive unemployment benefits! I guess that makes the topic even more relevant.
Basically the chapter was talking about what electrical appliances that people have at home. At the top of the table were the usual suspects like refridgerators, washing machines, telephones, televisions, bicycles and cars. There are even more Germans with mobile phones than there are with microwaves or computers
The relationship between Wants and Needs is something that has always interested me as I have had various periods of low income and middle level incomes, plus I have been in a variety of situations. The things that people Want or Need vary greatly when it comes to travelling, normal living or camping. Just like the things that you Want or Need when you are a student are much different than when you are a 9-5 worker! Priorities can change considerably.
When I am travelling, my top three priorities are someplace to sleep, something to eat and access to the internet! When camping, it was even more simple like clean water, soft earth which doesn't bend the tent pegs and close proximity to the toilets! There is nothing so beautiful as getting back to basics and finding out what the things are that really matter. Fashionable clothes? How about clean underwear and running water!
I think the main problem is that people don't compare what they have to what they really need. Instead they compare what they have to what they don't have! I have heard a few times that you only really want something when you don't have it or when you lose it! With so many products available for sale these days, people will go out and buy a new phone even if their old one isn't broken or upgrade their TV from standard to high definition just to have the latest and greatest.
I've been suckered in more than once when it comes to that sort of thing and when you have disposable income it is very easy to go out and buy buy buy, even if you don't really need it or use it. People have an ideal; they say to themselves, "if I buy a good camera then I will take great photos" or even worse "If I buy a big TV or a coffee machine, then I won't waste money at the movies or going to a cafe."
But that is the whole point! Being social and going to see a movie is something that I really enjoyed as a teenager and catching up with someone over a coffee or a beer is fantastic! Mind you having people over for dinner is also a great thing to do, but my point is that people want to own everything just so they can impress other people. You don't need Dolby Surround Sound in your home, it sounds better at the movies anyway.
I have very much a 'less is more' kind of viewpoint. The more things you own, the more they own you, which is a great quote from Fight Club. My vision for the future is one where many appliances are combined especially when it comes to entertainment. It is great now because people can use a gaming console to play movies on a TV, or use the internet. Just recently I bought a HDMI cable so I can share my photos and videos or play DVDs from my laptop on our new TV which is awesome!
So remember kids, experiences mean more than things. So leave that fairy floss maker at the store and go out and drink a coffee with some friends. Merry Christmas!