What's the term for the opposite of a hoarder? Is there one? You see, I hate having things.
Maybe that's a weird thing to say during the busiest shopping week of the year. It's also a weird statement for someone who's owned as much crap as I have, I suppose: every iPhone, every Nexus, countless headphones, laptops, televisions, smartwatches, dumbwatches, random Bluetooth-enabled nonsense. But as I sit writing this — iPhone 6 Plus on one side, wireless speaker and Philips Hue lamp on the other, and MacBook Air in front of me — I've come to accept it.
I've found that the struggle lies in the wide rift between the anticipation of owning a gadget and the reality of actually owning it. Rarely does anything really pay off. There's an adrenaline rush in buying neat things, and certainly those of us who've ever made or watched an unboxing video understand that basest kind of materialistic thrill — the peeling of the protective wrap, the smell of new plastic, the first boot-up. But eventually, you move beyond the honeymoon and struggle through the morass of owning something of value, be it $5 or $500, that doesn't necessarily contribute a whole lot to your life.
One of the many things I bought and sold this year, for no apparent reason.
In other words, I've found that my favorite parts of ownership are the lead-up to the purchase and the wad of cash that lands in your lap when you sell. The part where you actually own something, well, that's a distant third. I look at these things around me, these gadgets, and all I see are little piles of cash. That's money for a nice meal, maybe a few dollars to sock away for a vacation down the road.
Of course, the money inevitably just feeds right back into the cycle. Perhaps it's a Nexus 6 this time, or some more $60 Hue bulbs for my shoebox Manhattan apartment.
The struggle lies in the wide rift between the anticipation of owning a gadget and the reality of actually owning it
Things that I use constantly and aren't easily replaced — my TiVo, for instance — are generally safe. The moment I go more than a week or two without using something, though, I start to resent its presence until I can get it on the auction block. It's gotten to the point where practically everything I own is for sale. Want the watch I'm wearing right now? Let's talk. The phone in my pocket? Yeah, I wouldn't mind having a different one, we can work something out. On a couple occasions, I've even caught myself negotiating sale prices of things I haven't even bought yet. It's as if I'm trying to minimize the ownership period of everything I buy, pushing the purchase and the sale as close to one another as I possibly can.
I'm not addicted to the buying, I'm addicted to the selling.
I certainly don't recommend this lifestyle. With rare exceptions, I lose money hand-over-fist in these rapid-fire flips, except in those rare cases where the buyer's remorse sets in before the return period is up. But I have found a tenuous justification: I think of it as though I'm paying a rental fee throughout the year — the unavoidable cost of having new, cool things passing in and back out of my life.
Perhaps someday I'll just buy the things I actually want to keep. Perhaps this is just the way I am, an anti-hoarder who's constantly leaking money.
But hey, enough small talk, do you want these headphones? I'll cut you a hell of a deal.