A car that’s still going strong at 500,000 miles is my kind of car!
It seems that nobody wants you to own anything anymore, and that’s bad news for the frugal among us. Call me a cheapskate if you want, but once I buy something, I’ll be the one who decides when it’s obsolete, not the manufacturer, not the television, not the scorn of my friends and co-workers.
If that version of Word was good enough to get a novel written back in 2003, it’s probably still good enough to do the job now. Nobody a dozen years ago sat down with Word and said, “Nope, not good enough yet. I can’t possibly write a novel without advanced ligature settings!” If Word got the job done back in 2003, chances are it’ll get the job done in 2015, so excuse me, Microsoft, if I held onto my Word 2003 a bit longer than you’d have wished.
Now Microsoft doesn’t want me to own Word at all. They want me to rent a version they keep in the cloud and pay them an annual fee for the convenience of not owning my own copy. The benefit is that I’ll always have the latest and greatest version. The downside is that I’ll be forever paying for it, I’d better pray my internet connection doesn’t die, and if I don’t like the fact that they’ve taken my favorite function and buried it somewhere in the bowels of the Misty Mountains, too bad for me.
Car dealers want you to lease a car instead of buying it. “It’ll save you money!” they say as you sign your name to a document that ensures that you will forever be making a car payment and never own so much as a turn signal indicator. (Oh, well… never used that anyway.) I kept my last car for twelve years and only got rid of it because my wife gave it away behind my back.
I like owning books, too. I love ebooks, but I also appreciate owning physical copies of certain books that mean a lot to me. These volumes are mine, not “licensed” by Amazon and open to being yanked away or disappearing in the cloud. I’ll admit, if I happened to want one of these books I’d have to get a ladder and climb into the attic and, amid a cloud of insulation dust, paw through unlabeled boxes to find the book I want, and I’d most likely decide it was worth the money to download a new copy to my Kindle instead, but the books are there, waiting, sustaining an ecology of mites, silverfish and mice, and insulating me a little bit more from the effects of solar radiation.
I like owning my own home. Okay, it’s a dump, but it’s my dump. So what if all around me people are erecting MacMansions that could fit my entire house into a single walk-in closet? So what if I wind up like the old guy in Up, his house surrounded by high rises? My house is fine, and one day I may actually own it. Meanwhile I own it enough that I can do whatever I want to it, within code. I could add balloons, and maybe I will, just for the heck of it.
I don’t know where this You-don’t-own-it-We-do economy is headed. I’m not sure I want to find out. What’s next?
“Sorry, Jan, but that Grateful Dead t-shirt is obsolete… here’s your new Justin Bieber shirt.”
“Sorry, Jan, but nobody uses Mr. Coffee anymore… here’s your new single-cup ‘brewing system’ using our proprietary single-cup brew packs with our proprietary coffee from the farmers in Colombia that we own.”
“Sorry, Jan, but… gosh, this is hard… you’re obsolete. Gotta go, pal.”