I have been known to be wildly inconsistent with my reactions to expensive items. I will happily overpay for a pair of jeans, and later that same day bemoan the state of the world when an ice-cream costs a fiver, despite both items having a similar manufacturing cost.
My biggest blind spot is headphones. I have become convinced that I need a pair for different situations. So I have a pair for the gym (barely used, obviously), a pair for everything else, and then a pair of wireless earphones for situations in which I don’t feel like wearing headphones (or something; I can’t remember how I justified it to my family).
It’s the earphones that are now causing me grief. I had a pair of the kind that many people have, from that company that we all know manufacture things ethically and from whom there’s absolutely no way your phone was made by a slave. I chose these overpriced earphones for no other reason than to be able to ask my wife where I had put them, over and over again.
Then the Really Ethical Company brought out a new pair. These are apparently much better than the version I had because they sit in your ear more comfortably and the sound quality is far improved: two qualities that were very much trumpeted about the pair I already had, but which are now apparently utter trash and a crime against audio.
Like an idiot, I decided I needed them and ordered a pair. I was so excited about being able to put the new earphones, that were almost identical to the ones I had, into my ears, so that I could finally hear my music properly and experience levels of comfort that I could previously only dream of with the awful pieces of shit I was using before.
I now had the issue of what to do with the old earphones. I went with the genius idea of giving them to my son, achieving the double aim of making me feel better about myself, while also showing my son that I love him enough to give him anything I have that has been rendered obsolete. (He also receives a pair of earphones for doing nothing. And so his ongoing journey in learning to appreciate the value of things is once more compromised by his father.)
The earphones arrived and I pretended that they were an improvement. Not to anyone else; I just kept reassuring myself that there was a noticeable difference, and that it would have been ridiculous to struggle on with the previous pair. There was absolutely no way that this was a waste of money, and further evidence of our manipulation by a capitalist society into believing we need to consume needless things in order to force us to keep working. (I heard that on a podcast, and while I was upset by the message, I was impressed at how crystal clear the words sounded.)
That lasted for about two weeks, until the earphones mysteriously stopped working. I put them in on the train, they refused to boot up, and I was left with the horrifying reality of being alone with my thoughts for an hour. I got home and immediately contacted the Really Ethical Company for a replacement and, as I half expected, they said something along the lines of how they’re only supposed to last about two weeks until the new iteration is released. I would have to send them off to be repaired, and so I am now without any earphones at all.
My life has continued almost completely unaffected, which highlights the stupidity of the purchase in the first place. This might well be my first step in unplugging from the Matrix. Either that, or I’ll just buy the new version as soon as they launch.