Owning Stuff…

>> January 14, 2020

>> Blog Post #10

I had a few pints of stout at the pub with a good friend of mine yesterday. It was really nice to catch up as we probably see each other every other year now and live on separate continents. As we gave each other a quick rundown of what had been going on in our respective lives over the last two years he said something that surprised me.

“Of all the people I know, you were the last one to continue to buy CDs”

I paused a second, out of surprise, smiled and we continued with our conversation, which actually didn’t have anything to do with ownership, or property but rather art.

Today, as I was taking my daily stroll in the woods and across the countryside, the thought just crossed my mind again. On a side note, I’ll probably have to write something at some point about the benefits I have found personally in taking a walk every day. Things really happen in your mind, when nothing seems to be happening.

So, what was it that struck me? It wasn’t so much the content, as I immediately felt that the statement was probably true. It did carry the warmth that comes with the feeling that you are talking to a good friend, the kind that probably knows the most trivial details about you – or embarrassing stuff. No, what I think made me pause, was that I took a second to analyze an old behavior through a different set of eyes.

I know for a fact that I kept buying CDs way after most people stopped doing so. I’d then burn them so I could also have them on a computer and transfer them on all sorts of electronic devices. That includes minidiscs if you’ve ever heard of those.

The reason I bought CDs was a mix of liking the object and enjoying unwrapping it, looking at the artwork inside, etc. I also had doubts about the quality of MP3s at first, or about the durability of digital objects and I enjoyed property of the media and the content.

Streaming came later, as an obvious service that extended a deep trend in society to stop owning stuff and just pay for service as you go. I’ve never used a streaming platform or actually I’ve never paid for one. And I probably never will as long as there are available alternatives to purchase music and own it once and for all.

I think continuing to buy CDs was the first sign that for certain things that mattered to me, I would strongly refuse to rent them. Why pay a tenth of a cent every time I listen to my favorite album for all of eternity while I could pay more, once, but never have to worry about it again? My hunch was that if I did the math, renting would be a bad deal. Obviously, I am very conscious that no one else in the universe still listens to full albums, but hey, what can I do about that?

But there is something else to it.

It has to do with the nature of what often falls under intellectual property laws.

Pick your favorite song and think about how much you love it. You should be able to hum it, since it’s your favorite song. You know it by heart. There are no new surprises in it. Thinking about it probably makes you want to listen to it right now.

By owning it, you can, whenever you want. By not ever owning the media that stores it whatever that media is, you will remain at the mercy of people who will be willing to lend it to you for a price.

I don’t want the rights of the music. I want to own the right to exercise the experience of feeling love for “knowledge” I already possess. I already know the song. I already know I love the song. There is no novelty, just the right to experience a feeling that is mine, that belongs to no one else, including whoever wrote or interpreted the song. I will not become your recurring paying customer for it if I can purchase it once, compensating the creator and all the people who made it happen until I took possession of it.

So, in a way, this is an example of how I naturally took ownership of things that mattered very much to me years ago. Buy the CDs, make backups, don’t scratch them, keep them clean, and ordered etc.….

That ownership and responsibility wasn’t much of an effort at all, because I knew why I was doing it and how much those CDs meant to me.

These days I’m taking ownership and responsibility for other things, but you might guess where this is heading next 😉