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Washington Post: Why do we carry so much around?

Burdens of the Modern Beast

What’s in my bag: Yes, I will cut you.Washington Post on the growing amount of crap people carry around (present company very much included).

The increased quantity of carry-on items for our flight through life, he says, reflects "the tendency of our society to dispense with sources of shared stability -- the long-term job, neighborhoods, unions, family dinners -- and transform us into autonomous free agents."

The Walkman, introduced in 1979, Hine says in an e-mail, "probably set the precedent; it allowed people to be physically in a space, but mentally detached. The plethora of 'communications' devices we carry are also tools of isolation from the immediate environment. And, in the words of the recruiting ad, we each become 'an army of one' carrying all our tools of survival through a presumably hostile world."

It's the perfect posture for the Age of Insecurity. We fret about our jobs, families, country, manhood or womanhood, ability to be a good parent. We believe someone is out to get us. And to get our things. So, like the homeless, we carry our stuff with us. Just in case something, or anything, happens.

[ via Joe Ganley on The Google Group ]

So what should you carry, hmmm?

If you're looking to shed (or, perhaps, more efficiently augment) your on-board crap pile, check out these fun pages from the 43F wiki:

John Markos O'Neill's picture

I think the article is...

I think the article is right on about our transformation into autonomous agents. As the writer points out, this is not exactly something we chose -- it's a side effect of changes in our society.

I carry a large backpack containing a laptop, a book, a notepad, rain gear, food (breakfast and lunch), coffee, water, a small bicycle repair kit, and plastic bags. I ride a bike and take the train to work. All of these items are, effectively, necessities. I have pretty much eliminated anything I don't really want to have during my long commute.

Some technology might eliminate these needs. When nanotech fabrics make work clothes waterproof, the rain gear can go. If I had a tablet computer that contained my study materials, I could eliminate the notepad and the book. If all of my devices were waterproof, I could get rid of all the plastic bags.

Actually, the tablet computer would be great for students, too -- basically eliminating the need for a backpack, or at least a large one.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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