[nSLUG] Slightly OT: icons and how we sometimes feel

Rich budman85 at eastlink.ca
Sat Apr 14 21:59:18 ADT 2007

On Sat, 2007-04-14 at 08:34 -0300, D G Teed wrote:
> I was reading an interview with the Author of "Made to Break"
> regarding planned obsolescence.
> He made a statement about icons in our culture which I think 
> has some relevance to how people sometimes feel about
> Macs, types of Linux, and more.
>         GILES SLADE: Yes, younger people don't want to hear anything
>         negative about the iPod. I might as well put a turban on and
>         grow a long beard. It comes down to the social value of
>         consumer goods as icons. If I'm saying something negative
>         about your tribe's icon, it's as if I'm attacking you
>         personally. Also, younger people have much less sense that
>         things should last. I find that really disturbing.
> He has the turban part and many other details mixed up in his
> interview, but
> I think this sociology remark is interesting.  Why do people want
> to attach to brands as deeply as tribal people would feel about 
> their icons?  I grew up in the 70's and then there was an
> embarrassment
> to wear clothing showing brands.  People ripped off the leather
> tab on Levis.  This was the practise among ordinary
> teenagers living in the sticks, who wore white Adidas shoes 
> with 3 blue stripes all winter long, not radicals of the left.
> Something to think about.

I mentioned this to my wife, who just happens to be a sociologist, and
she had this to say:

I agree with the author's statement that you quoted in principle, I do
not agree with his comparison between turbans and modern consumerism.
>From a sociological perspective, the turban is a ritual and ceremonial
symbol that dates back thousands of years. Where modern consumerism as
we know it today is probably less than 60 years old.  So it begs the
question which society is more stable?

When we attach our self worth to disposable goods and services that are
designed to harm our own best interests then we need to reexamine our
collective wisdom.  People in western societies have lost their own
power of innovation much like the Spanish did after they colonized South
America and raped the continent of all its wealth. For hundreds of years
thereafter they imported all of their goods and services there by
depleting their ability to create ... they killed the craftsmen and
within a few generations ... killed the crafts.  

In today's society, by following the same mindset we become the
architects of our own demise.  When people personalize "things" they tie
their own identity to consumer goods.  Considering these consumer goods
are disposable in their view, does that make them disposable as well?
Television has played a large part in suppressing innovation and
rewarding consumerism.  It is what sociologists call rote learning.
There is no interaction or debate.  A person's wants are now dictated as
their needs. Without these goods and services, a person is somehow seen
as inadequate or an underachiever. 

Those who are working with Linux to produce a far superior product are a
threat because they demonstrate that one doesn't need the newest
equipment [ software or hardware ] to perform well.

Your question "Why do people want to attach to brands as deeply as
tribal people would feel about their icons?".  It is because their
innovation, skills, and artistry have been discouraged.  It is evident
in every institution in our society, including schools, the work place,
and even now in our own leisure activities.  The individual intelligence
and innovation is scorned because it is a threat to the corporations and
all of our institutions.  Someone who does not fit the collective mold
is considered weird or an outcast. 

It is in the best interests of multi-national corporations (who own and
operate government globally) to keep the masses in "group think" mode.
It is evident daily in media where globalization is elevated to a
position of distinction. Corporations have been personified and now have
more rights and less responsibilities than the individual. We have
become our own worst enemies. 

We in the Linux community should feel extremely proud of our
accomplishments because we were self taught, we broke the mold.  Yet,
somehow we feel on the defensive.  Why aren't we celebrated by our

"Learning is not compulsory... neither is survival." 
	- W. Edwards Deming



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