The Sharper Image of what the world needs

I went looking for students at the St. Louis Galleria today, and happened to see a poster in a window for a brand new "miracle food storage system." It's a set of plastic bowls that are treated or irradiated somehow to make them keep food fresh for months at a time, or something like that. It made me think.

One of the biggest complaints about the world today is that people have problems with impulse control. Everything has to happen now-- a new phone commercial's punch line is that with this phone, your office is everywhere. Gas stations cater, McDonald's rents movies, and anything from scheduling car care to buying a house can be handled on the Internet in the moments between all the other tasks.

Yet there's a vast, hidden interest in making things last a long time. It's not enough to see the movie-- you want to own it too. Just keeping up with the happenings on the TV show won't do-- the show comes out on DVD shortly after the season ends. When you buy a new car, a long warranty is a huge selling point, right up there with the number of seats and cylinders. And in the window of the Sharper Image store is a miracle of plasticware.

I think it's unfair to say that we no longer know how to delay gratification. I think the better assessment is that we have simply lost a great deal of memory about what things are worth delaying for.

1 comment:

Esther said...

This sounds so Hillsdale-ian. It's a commentary on the human condition. Despite all the instant gratification stuff we are always looking for permanence also.