Cramming infinite possibility into a finite life

AKA “renting versus owning.” Confession: I wrote most of this back in January 2009, but for some reason never bothered to finish the job and hit the “post” button. It’s time to correct that, as nothing in this post has really changed.

I have a bit of a collector gene in me. Not in the hardcore this ultra-limited sealed game is worth $2500 sense, nor in the next on 60 Minutes: this pack-rat has piles of paper decomposing on the floor sense, but more a I like this, so I’ll get a copy so I can enjoy it later sense. I have a goodly-sized collection of games, CDs, and (mostly anime) DVDs.

Problem is, I’m much better at buying these things than I am at actually enjoying them. I still have to play Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and XI; I still haven’t seen The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. (I did watch Cowboy Bebop, though… about six years after everyone else.) Thanks to my iPod and work, I have listened to the CDs I’ve bought—though some of them haven’t gotten as much play as they really deserve.

And as time passes, and as I start waking up somewhat stiff and sore, I’ve begun to recognize, on a more-than-intellectual level, that I won’t live forever. That understanding naturally leads to a bunch of questions—some more important, and then others like: How much time would it take to play all the games I have? To watch all the anime and movies I have?

This line of thought leads to a harsh test for buying the kinds of things I buy: Is this thing worth the time it will take to [watch|play] it? (How consistently I apply that test may be legitimately questioned, however…)

The above is one of many thoughts blowing through the desert wasteland that is my brain these days. And then, earlier today, I read a this is post (linking to a longer one) about renting versus owning.

I have a huge bias for physical goods; I’ve had too many hard drives go bad, taking data with them (despite backups!), to trust that any bits I buy will always be around. But the argument here isn’t the usual DVDs/Blu ray discs will die out in favor of electronic downloads one that I hear (how are people who can’t be arsed to back up their own photos supposed to take care of a couple dozen movies?).

…(back to November 2009)…

I think my distaste for a rental society relates to power. Not the “I have stuff to display my import” sense of power (those who know me in person hopefully would agree that I don’t like to show off), but the “I don’t want others to have control over me” power. In a society where you own nothing, the people that do own the things have power over you so long as you want those things—and the RIAA and MPAA has clearly demonstrated what can go wrong if you let someone else make up the rules for use.

I like knowing that I can watch Kenichi whenever I want (fun show, BTW), regardless of whether or not Funimation—or the Japanese creator—has a change of heart about whether or not, or how, I should be watching it.


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