I greatly enjoyed reading the Forbes 90th 75th Anniversary edition on “networks.”
The magazine features 28 articles by leading gurus on a range of topics all dealing with the role that networks play within modern society. One essay in particular hit close to home. The Dating Game by Chris Ayres is a thought provoking piece on modern love, but also on the economics of Generation X and Y. The gist is that Chris ends up meeting his wife through Craigslist while he attempts to sell a sofa ‘gifted’ to him by his Grandmother.
What I really relate to is the idea that for my generation furniture is “liquid.” In generations past, furniture was often handed down from generation to generation. Finding used furniture was not easy and it was often expensive to move. Buying new furniture PI (pre-Ikea) meant that what you selected from was either overly expensive or REALLY cheap. Thus people tended to accumulate hand-me-down furniture and spend lots of money moving it around.
Now thanks to services such as Craigslist, eBay and others, people routinely move to a new city expecting to buy everything they need second-hand and online. Likewise, thanks to economies of scale and smart inventory/shipping from the likes of Ikea, a new and decent quality dining room table can be had for under $250.
What does this mean? First, it means that in part we probably live in a more sustainable world ‘â€œ at least from the perspective of recycled furniture (…I recall walking a sofa 12 blocks in DC after buying it from fellow C-lister). It also means that the intrinsic or sentimental value we place on material possessions in our homes may not be as great as it was for our parents or our parents’ parents. This leads to a questions: might some cultural or family identity be lost among all this liquidity in possessions? Probably, but overall I find this a positive development especially when you consider that Chris lost a crappy sofa and gained a cute and devoted wife.
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