I’ve understood your view on this for some time, and have to agree in part that needless consumerism is not desirable (at least when there appears to be no thought given to environmental impacts), but I think this is a very typical indicator of the mood of UK society today.
Corporate brands are naturally designed to persuade people to buy more, and the general conscience of the man in the street (including us web types) is influenced by whatever is ‘hot’ at the time. Trending is such a vastly important thing, and the faster our online lives get, the higher the turnover of trends. Twitter’s very own trends feature is a shining example of this, with the fads literally lasting minutes. I think it’s had a genuine influence on people’s desire to pick up the ‘hottest new thing’ because they can tap directly into the fervour of the moment - that instant shot of hype - something which has increased exponentially since the start of the internet and on-demand services.
That said, there is also something to be said for the lure of innovation to humans at the bleeding edge and with the disposable income. I think this has happened before, and happens whenever there is great change in technology. If you compare this age directly to the Industrial Revolution I believe you can directly correlate the rapid and repeated re-investment in new machinery, tools and new technology for that enlightened state of being ‘ahead of the game’.
It gives you an edge, sometimes an important and tangible one (for businesses, and certain consumers). And I’d argue that although it might seem that every man and his dog is buying an iPad or iPhone or whatever, the reality is that this group of early-adopters is actually very limited; the people who are doing it are generally people who are technical or have a vested interest somehow. The vast majority of people out there don’t rush out to buy every Apple product.
So these folk who do buy; the designers, the developers, the web types and then those with more money than sense, I think you’d always have poor luck persuading them that they don’t need this stuff.
I think I maybe cynical, but the public’s interest in actions of ‘great environmentalism’ has passed for the moment. The media’s sale of ‘green’ and the impending doom of the planet a couple of years ago really created a feeling of progress, but only when it was forced in the headlines.
But like road-rage, like mad cow disease, like everything else that becomes a story - it has just become pass�, and this year’s focus is the gloom of recession, and like in the depression of the 1930’s, tends to make aspirational futures and technological dream even more desirable and escapist than they normally might be. I maintain that most people in web/tech are currently doing better than most other industries at this point in time, and we are therefore as a group, more susceptible to be drawn to making these purchases just ‘because we can’ and are most regularly exposed to the ‘trend coalface’ than almost anybody else.