Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Not Paying the Asshole Tax

I just made two luxury purchases for pennies on the dollar:

An iPhone X, used, for $535 (256G of memory). It sold for $1,149 when it was released just two years ago. And this was the last model of iPhone to contain a Qualcomm modem; all subsequent models have very poor data performance with marginal connections. Also, the iPhone X's gorgeous OLED screen still hasn't been surpassed, even by the newly-announced iPhone 11 Pro.

This eye-catching KAI Sandwich Knife, specially-made for Williams Sonoma. Normally $25, but I grabbed the last one for just $9.99.

It dawns on me that it would be 180 degrees skewed to think of this as bargain shopping. On the contrary, buying new/shiny is elitism. And to be elite, one must pay an asshole tax.

We never need to pay the asshole tax, yet most of us usually do, for three reasons:
1. Path Of Least Resistance
It's easier to buy the shiny thing marketed in the shiny way that people are currently talking about...and it's hard to overstate our propensity to choose the expeditious route. It's always easiest to stay with the flock. (To me, mindless flocking is for assholes).
2. I Want It Now
...and I won't be denied.(Asshole!)
3. Status
There are two ways status impacts. The most familiar way is comparatively rare: "Look at me with my cool iPhone 11 Pro!" But there's a more quietly insidious status choice: I'm not the "type of person" who buys closeouts or other people's crappy cast-offs. It feels somehow "unclean", literally and/or figuratively. I've written before about how elitism often expresses this way, driving food and health movements like organics, boutique allergies, and locavorism. You can't be elite without elevation, and you can't elevate without distinguishing your perch from the filth. (ASSHOLE!)
If you're not in it for status, or to indulge momentary impulses, and you're applying your brain, you can spend a lot less. But you're not saving money, you're simply declining to pay the Asshole Tax.

It's not easy to reframe one's consumerism. After hundreds of billions of dollars worth of marketing hypnosis, and a lifetime of contagious conformity, one must firmly shake off murkily unchallenged assumptions and aspirations.

See also "Transformed Attitude Toward Travel" explaining how I travel very frequently and very non-sensationally for a mere pittance.

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