Greetings fellow geeks.
Tackling the age-old human condition of passion versus materialism (a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values), in an ever-changing and demanding world has not escaped our lives. So where do we as geeks fall in the grand scheme of things and how do we keep ourselves centred? This is a thought-provoking question that we’ve all had to face at some point in our lives – the real dilemma is identifying when we have actually arrived at that point.
I’m going to share a personal story. This year, Africa finally got a taste of an international-scale Comic Con and it was amazing to say the least (credit to ICON for holding down the fort for many years preceding this and REED Exhibitions and all involved for pulling it off – Ed.). The problem with an event as grand as this is that there’s almost always a heavy bill attached to being a part of it. For me, there were travel, food and accommodation costs – and that was before everything that actually came with the event itself. When I stepped into the Con, I saw mind-boggling geek-themed novelty items, artwork, jewellery, clothes and toys and my insides just melted – I wanted EVERYTHING. Sadly, I knew that I could in no way afford EVERYTHING, so I bought one thing: a Batman logo pendant and chain. It was clearly overpriced, but still affordable and that was that.
Reflecting on this, I asked myself this question: what happens when you are from the other side of the tracks and can buy whatever you want with barely a thought except ‘Ooh I want that!’? Does that mean that you should buy whatever you want or should you still contemplate? There exists a very fine line between passion and materialism; just because you envision yourself as the biggest Batman fan does not necessarily mean that you are soaked in passion over the character and in the same breath neither does owning 100 Batman figurines in various styles and poses. My basic understanding is that if you can own the 100 Batman figurines, by all means do! But, do not think that you are have now reached the ultimate stage in the game of our existence and no boss can stand against you (small gamer reference there).
I’ve come up with a few guidelines to stop you from letting your passion take over all rhyme and reason and slowly dipping into the materialistic side of things:
- Consider your priorities. When faced with the daunting decision of, let’s say, entering into a payment plan for the purchase of a superhero figurine set, consider this: are you currently in any other payment plans for example a bond or a car plan or do you already own those? In simple terms if you are of sound enough mind to spend thousands on a set of figurines, will you do the same for a shelter over your head. Ask yourself ‘does owning this figurine set outweigh owning (for example) a car?’ I hate to be the one to say this, but this is also what being a grown up is all about: no matter how much you love something, an element of logic must be applied. I want to further expand on this point for I don’t wish to come across as condescending or judgmental, I understand that we as geeks are not always treated well by those who cannot relate to our obsessions so we tend to seek out joy in a short term manner and if doing this motivates you toward long term joys then keep doing it, happiness in all that you do is vital,
- Draw the line. Think about how you really feel about your little or large obsession. As geeks, we tend to get overly excited (I believe the technical term is ‘freak out’– Ed.) when we see merchandise related to the things we love. I know I nearly fainted from joy when I saw Batman Chuck Taylors but then I saw the price and I nearly fainted again. So, when I say draw the line, I mean that you should have a clear distinction between buying merch because it makes you feel awesome and buying it because you want people to see how awesome your merch is – there is a difference.
- Try not to develop a superiority complex based on what you have. This is really important: remember that when you start to feel like you’re superior to others because you have more merch than them, you are creeping onto an ugly path riddled with materialism, and, if there’s one thing our local geek community generally prides itself on, its humility. Yeah, we exist in a numerous variety of fantastical worlds, but we do our best to always be kind, open and good to one another.
I believe that as humans, we are bound to be somewhat materialistic at some point in our lives, but it is up to us to ensure that it doesn’t take over our core being. Some of us fell in love with superheroes or Harry Potter because we found solace in the fantasy – here we could not be judged or made to feel inferior or smaller than another person. But, if we begin to think that we are better than another person (or geek in this respect) due to our collections or merchandise, aren’t we becoming the very thing that we needed solace from? I think it does and I’ll conclude by saying this – keep it simple, humble and thankful and you will always remain centred in chaos-soaked world of geekdom.