The stuff of virtual legends.

I’ve been away from home for most of last week and missing my own bed, my own kitchen, my own sofa and my own tv! Since when did stuff mean so much to me?

After selling up my flat and most of my stuff with it to go travelling I swore I’d never be a slave to stuff again but yet here I am five or so years later lying in a bed that is not my own and pining for my stuff! This may not be so unusual, I’m sure that lots of us miss the familiarity of home at some point when we’re travelling.

This week, however, I was shocked to find myself not only missing my comfy bed but also, due to lack of internet, missing my virtual stuff as well!! Even more shockingly I wasn’t the only one in our small group, five of us were huddled round the malfunctioning internet connection with our laptops desperately trying to make sense of the instructions to get a connection and failing. We all had with us our laptops, MacBooks, netbooks and smart phones so it wasn’t the actual physical stuff we were missing, more the virtual connections that stuff allows us to have.

Interestingly this small group were of varied nationality, background, occupation and age and yet all of us were linked in our use of the internet to make connections with people whether it be for work or socially. Ten or so years ago a similar group of people may not even have had a mobile phone between them and now look at us! Suddenly not having access to our email all the time is a huge problem, we feel out of the loop with our friends if we don’t have regular access to our Facebook page, we have no idea what is happening in the world if we don’t have access to our Twitter account – newspapers are out of date before they’re printed and nothing beats hearing what’s happening direct from the person it’s happening to.

Now, more than ever, we are consumers, consumers of the physical gadgets – just look at iPad, it sold over 700,000 on release, but more importantly consumers of information. While previously we got information and news from books, magazines, newspapers and TV where it was all fed to the masses by the minority, now the masses are passing information to one another without going through the “official” channels. It seems like we’re moving forward and backwards at the same time.

All these gadgets are the stuff of legends, playing pong as a child I never thought that something like an iPhone would ever actually exist, except maybe in Star Trek! What really amazes me though is the way that we’re using these gadgets. It harks back to earlier times in history when word of mouth was king, when tribes passed their stories from one person to another and one generation to another. Now, through things like Twitter our tribe is international and we’re passing information to others in the tribe and telling our stories independently. There are infinite possibilities and this is very exciting… I don’t beat myself up too much for being a bit of a geek and loving my stuff, both physical and virtual.

What do you think? Is it consumerism gone mad or new methods to help us communicate in an old way?

Photo credit: debaird™

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