On a macro level, our capital based society is bases its growth on people buying “stuff”. This growth has been fueled by companies artificially inflating the desire for consumers to have more, better, faster; to discard the old and upgrade to the new. Technology has enabled the producers to get more and more sophisticated in their ability to manipulate consumers and further fanning the demand. I have been concerned about the time consumers realize the growing desires are less and less related to true need. Will our society’s economy crumble like a house of cards?
The benefits we got from free over-the-air TV and more recently from Google Search or Facebook social networking are not really free – we get it in exchange of our privacy or by allowing companies to continually pitch us; overtly through ads and more covertly through various recent online marketing schemes.
I see a glimmer of hope though. The technological advancements which can help producers manipulate demand, can also help the consumer side of the equation. I came across an interesting article – The New Sharing Economy (from Fast Company) – which provides more insight into this topic; a great read.
The ability for consumers to find and squeeze more value out of the product cycle may ultimately save us. Access to online networks enabling sharing of tools, transportation, even lodging, enables us to be smarter of how we participate in the new economy.