Within the last 24 hours my wife saved me from a fate worst than insipid irrelevance. We choose not to buy each other christmas presents. I think perhaps we have come to realise that spending obscene amounts of money on material items will not make us love each other any more. We are better off filtering that money towards our children’s presents as their affections are far more likely to be bought by a vast array of simple trinkets. NB It did not work, they do not love us any more and seem to struggle with the abstract concept of love by volume.
Despite our moratorium on gifts, I am still left with the sense that I am in some way deserving of a gift to myself, and therefore have the right to splash out on a new toy. This is an entirely baseless and selfish notion of which I seem to be unable to satisfactorily quell by myself. This year I had convinced myself that I need to replace my PlayStation 3 with a PlayStation 4. This is in spite of an abundance of reasons as to why this would be a bad idea.
I do not know why I want a PlayStation 4. I am not a great gamer. In fact gaming strikes me as incredibly unproductive and a selfish waste of time. Other cultural pursuits that I do engage in do not seem so unworthy. Films, for example, are enriching in a way that playing a computer game cannot seen to match. I think perhaps because computer games are seemingly endless immersive experiences, whereas a film usually takes a more rewarding narrative arc. This is after spending many hours playing games in the past. I happen to have played so much Nintendo 64 at university that I left with a joint honours distinction in marijuana and GoldenEye.
I do not like Sony. This stems from an arguement I had with them where I once downloaded a game to my Playstation 3 that was actually for a different platform, and they refused to refund me for the redundant software, in spite of my offering to pay more money for the right software package. The day that happened I vowed never to spend another penny on a Sony product unless I could help it. Only to realise in the intervening period that Sony Corporation tendrils pentrate film, music, television, gaming, electronics, mobile phones, microchips and media management. The likelihood of ensuring that none of my money reached Sony shores seemed futile. I soon abandoned this principalled stance and recently downloaded a platform game from the PlayStation store (this time for the right console) in a Reddit inspired, ill-fated, whimsical rekindling of my past love for gaming. I soon realised gaming was still a massive waste of time, maybe better spent playing one of the guitars I historically just had to buy.
Another reason for not buying a PlayStation 4, and probably the best reason, is I don’t need one. I have a PlayStation 3 that works. Okay the controllers seem to have a mind of their own on occasions but surely if that were really a big issue I could buy a new controller. I do not need one. Recently I had a go on a friends virtual reality rig. It was amazingly immersive and I was staggered at how good it actually was. My friend, like me, is a compulsive purchaser of expensive dust gathering items and had purchased a PlayStation VR headset that had taken so long to arrive that he was compelled to purchase an alternate rig in the interim. He offered to give me the PS headset if I got a Playstation 4. As much as I enjoyed virtual reality I was conscious that I was unlikely to use it for any great period of time and the prospect of buying a Playstation 4 was therefore unlikely.
With the weight of all of the reasoning to the contrary I found myself yesterday afternoon telling my wife that I was about to go out and purchase a Playstation 4. She persuaded me against it. There was little really to persuade. I knew it to be a bad idea. I just needed an adult to tell me so. Because, as the irrepressible man-child I know myself to be, I am incapable of quelling these irrational impulses by myself. I have no idea why this is. I am an idiot constantly at war with my idiot self. Luckily I have a very understanding wife who apparently has a penchant for idiots. She told me all the things I already knew and the notion abated.
For some reason I am unaccountably stupid with money. This is exemplified by a time at one Glastonbury where on the Sunday night I had £10.00 left in my pocket. Irrationally I had to spend it. In spite of appeals from a good friend not to waste it I went to a stall and bought a pair of furry handcuffs. My brain slightly addled by a weekend of excess (in truth a couple of years of excess) I thought myself to be funny and irreverent by my purchase. My friend asked me why I did that, he seemed genuinely aghast and a little agreived at my stupidity. Rather than deal with his condemnation, the novelty cuffs now a tawdry motif for my own shortcomings, I gave them to a young couple passing the other way stating “Here, you need these more than me.” I thought this outwardly amusing, inside the whole episode still sits uncomfortable in my gut. It’s one of the moments when relived in my mind, I audibly call myself a twat. It’s not even that bit a deal. I have spent more money destroying parts of my brain and body with drugs and alcohol to way more detriment than this episode. However, it reflects the same weird compelling feeling that I need to spend money needlessly. It is embarrassing.
Fortunately I am not the only one in the herd that functions like this. I am perhaps one of the few who admit it. The whole concept of Christmas, in fact society, seems to be built around wanton excess. Having something for the sake of having it rather than genuine need. The food we eat, the things we consume, it is all to an excess that is damaging to the world and to our bodies. It all seems to be driven by this same instinct to consume veraciously with disregard to consequence. I am fortunate that I have somebody level headed enough to tell me that what I know to be a bad idea, is in fact a bad idea.