Wednesday, March 31, 2010

losing my grip

About six years ago I started losing my grip in a perfectly literal way--I began dropping things and wrestling with can openers and fasteners, and using my teeth on what seemed to me excess and impenetrable wrapping. Like these creepy, individually wrapped bananas (courtesy of treehugger)it seems like the packaging is meant to define its contents in what is sometimes an unhealthy way.

I found out later that the underlying issue with my grip was neurological, but that's not the point. Isn't there something a little weird about a culture that seems to value packaging above what's inside? And no, this isn't just another consumer tirade about bubble packs, although they are horrid. Because what I realized, as soon as a package morphed into a serious barrier to use, is that we actually use consumer wrappings to accelerate desire and simultaneously inspire dislike for a new purchase.

It's a strange dynamic--you buy something, presumably because you want it or need it, but by the time you've penetrated the protective shell, the new thing is sadly diminished. Partly it's the extra work, but it's also the resentment that the work is necessary--I mean, you paid for the thing, so why should it be inaccessible? Frustration poisons the reason for the purchase, and you (by this I mean me) begin to have doubts about individual judgment. And it's chiefly this false sense of weakness that triggers another purchase.

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