What do you value?
That question sounds like an intentionally misleading bait and hook for a hard-hitting sales pitch— but truly, have you ever wondered, what do you value?
I imagine the answer varies as much as the people reading this article. For some, it might be time. "I value my time." OK. Got it. "Money." Word. Someone says, "I value freedom of individual thought." An angel just earned its wings. What's the point anyway?
Well... for starters, prodding at the vulnerable underbelly of this question often uncovers some of the core definitions that make up our identity.
Identity. There's a big one. That thing that we seem to have lost track of over the past 1adlfhadskliui years. Identity. It's the central driving point of our human existence and yet the thing we are many times most disconnected from.
What does this have to do with shoes? A lot. Sort of.
I believe our relationship with products that we love influence how we feel, change our view of our self and others, and ultimately shape the way we behave and think.
Whether it's a song, a movie, a new pair of shoes, or a book— objects of art carry attributes with them that get transferred to the owner. Attributes that we care about. Attributes that we value. We don't all absorb them equally and we don't all reflect them in our personal lives, but there are hints or signals of what we care about attached to every purchase, every impulse, every desire.
"So you're saying that when I buy a Travis Scott McDonald's Meal I'm investing in loose cultural values and signaling to culture that I identify as a hip-hop-loving junk food enthusiast?"
Partially. Yes. As crazy as that sounds.
In distilled Aristotelian, "We are what we repeatedly do." is essentially the thesis statement of today's consumer culture.
And while it's hard to pixel the exact motive behind every purchase, we can rest assured that ownership is often simply a means to achieve a resulting bump in self-worth, status, or individual value that is fed by our frenzied attempt at shaping our identity.
We hear a lot about "purchasing power" these days. I'm a true believer that the way we see the world can be spelled out in our bank statements. After all, it was Jesus who said "Wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
I don't see this as a critical statement, but one of an awakening. A call to arms. It's sort of a warning for us to be aware of where we place our values, where we store our "treasure" (I'm looking at YOU, NFT wallet...) Not in the trivial, utilitarian way we view finances— but in the all-engrossing identity-driven (heart) way we attach what we own to who we are.
Are we simply products of the culture?
Do we influence our environment with our values or are we shaped by the systems of our surroundings?
I think Jesus and Aristotle would answer that question with another question: It depends... What do you value?