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Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Crowd Mentality and Getting Toys

It is sometimes the case that friends, or siblings, get together. When they do, the conversations often turn to the most recent acquisitions. "What have you gotten recently?" a friend might ask another, often appearing quite innocent. But the fact is -- This question is not at all innocent as it tends to provoke the desire to acquire.

Imagine, as you may, that three friends are sitting together in the cafe. They have ordered a drink (not just one drink to be shared, but one drink each) and are getting comfortable. The cafe provides a welcome respite from the harsh haze in the streets of Kuala Lumpur -- though it is no fault of Kuala Lumpur-ians. Indeed the haze is a recurring, seasonal gift from the Republic of Indonesia, to the good peoples of Malaysia, as a token of their long running friendship.

One of the three -- that might be you -- says, "Well, isn't it nice! We are finally together again, after such a long while."

And another of the three -- that might be me -- says, "Indeed! But we have been close at hand. With Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and other what-nots, we are always in contact with you."

And the last of the three, a mutual friend, says, "Ah yes! I watched with delight how your child recently acquired a wonderful toy. It was -- what was it?"

I offer helpfully, "A jumperoo, I believe. The child sits in the middle and jumps around, and the seat is suspended in mid-air, in such a way that the child is always standing while he is sitting."

And you say, "Ah! That one. That was great. Is great. Is still going great! But I thought you meant another toy that we recently got for my boy."

Now, pause right there. In that one sentence, you have acknowledged that (a) you had indeed purchased a jumperoo, and (b) it was wonderful, and (c) you have other wonderful toys.

Our mutual friend innocently falls for the trap. "Oh really! Why didn't you upload? Now I'm sulking. What toy did you get?"

And you go: "Ah, there were too many photos on my timeline. I thought of uploading in a few days. But you know, this thing we recently got -- it's really wonderful! My child loves it! Here, let me show you a few photos...."

Of course, we are all very soon looking at your telephone, with its unending gallery of photos of your child in poses of elated happiness, with various toys. In our minds, we begin to think thus: "I need to get this for my child!"

And so, our mutual friend and I will soon be trotting out the usual questions: "How much was it? Wow! It looks great. Where is it from? Can we get a discount?"

Somehow, with the herd mentality, it never occurs to people that (a) you want something exclusive; and (b) you want it with a discount; and (c) you are buying something that everybody else is buying. It could be a VTEC or a Fisher-Price. It could be a no-name brand. In any case, it costs money. A lot of money, and you won't notice it, because you, dear reader, may be one of those who relies on your partner to pay for things. Or you may be paying for it, but it's not a big deal for you because you have your own salary and your salary is big in comparison to the toy.

There could be a peer pressure mechanism in operation here. Because more and more people in the group think that a certain something is important, it therefore becomes "necessary" for you to get it as well. The logic is that you will lose face if you don't have it, because everybody else has it. But think again: If you don't have it, then not everybody has it. And if not everybody has it, then it is not a necessity. Correct?

Toys and things are items bought and sold commercially. In truth, manufacturers manufacture to make money, and traders advertise to make money. But they only make money when you buy what they are selling. The old saying is that a fool and his money are soon parted. In this modern day and age, it is apt to adapt this to another version: A fool and his honey are soon parted. Because, without money, there is usually no honey.