He’s amazing. There has never been any other like him. He sets my heart on fire, makes my skin tingle, and causes my body to course with chemicals of unparalleled ecstasy – and he lasts for hours.
I bought a new iPod.
This was not a trivial decision. I hate buying unnecessary things, and I loathe the act of shopping – it makes me feel overwhelmed, belittled, fat and broke. Even if I personally didn’t hate doing it, I would avoid doing it on the logical basis that our excessive consumption of natural resources has led to ecological havoc and climate change.
I like to ground my thinking in evolutionary biology, and the more I think about it, the more I am forced to come to the conclusion that we are all just insecure, neurotic monkeys who try to stifle our low self-esteem with shiny things. Lots and lots of shiny things.
I try to buy as few shiny things as possible. I’m not an acetic – I’m pretty hedonistic on occasion – but I am a utilitarian. I try to buy things only when I need them. I used a cell phone made in 2002 until six months ago; I already have a calendar, several cameras, and an mp3 player, what do I need a phone with a thousand bells and whistles for?
So I wore my iPod out to the very end – it got to the point that the battery only lasted an hour, and I had to hold the earphone jack down with duct tape to keep the sound flowing through both ears. It got rather annoying, and did the opposite of what an mp3 player is supposed to do, which is soothe.
I admitted defeat, and braved the gargantuan temple of tech in central London, the Apple megastore. I would have been happy to get a 50G iPod over my old 30G, but they didn’t sell those anymore. The smallest I could get? 120G. At first I balked, but figured, why not – the 30G one never ever proved adequate. I constantly had to update the library to keep myself happy. So I splurged – a shuffle or a nano would never, ever be good enough.
I won’t spend money on many things, but for music, I will. And this is rooted in evolutionary biology: we know now that music affects the brain like nothing else, releasing a cascade of sumptuous chemicals (the same released by drugs and sex), stimulates more parts of your brain than any other human activity, and – this is my favourite – makes your neurons all tingle in synchrony. Music is integral to human evolution, and it’s integral to my own happiness.
Buying an iPod was not a trivial act of mindless consumption – it was a fulfillment of my biological destiny.