Ah, The Joy of Consumption
While purchasing a hand-held digital recorder for lectures, interviews and notes I went through a dialectical process. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines dialectic as, "the existence or working of opposing forces, tendencies." A salient example of this is from Galbraith's The Affluent Society, "As a society becomes increasingly affluent, wants are increasingly created by the process by which they are satisfied." Satisfy needs, create needs. Which is it? Answer: both. This is particularly true of buying consumer goods.
I thought I had found the perfect technology. I went through a process of weighing options, finding the best price and considering my needs for the product. Then, once I received the product I learned that I could not transfer the sound files to my computer. That feature was on a model that cost 45 dollars more. Much like having a digital camera where the images can only be viewed using the camera, I felt stuck. My consonance or satisfaction over the purchase turned to dissonance. This launched me into another dialectical process of revising my old knowledge in light of my new knowledge.
Some of the questions I asked: Would I want to save the files to my machine so they could be accessed in the future? Would I want to email them to people? Would having this ability just make me lazy; more likely to transfer the files to my machine and never review them? Could I justify the $45 given things were financially tight? Does the anticipated amount of use justify the extra cost?
After wading through conflicting options and arguments for trading in the model or keeping it I decided to return the recorder for the more expensive one. This decision came about after talking through the pros and cons with my uncle. It helps to get objective about these things by bouncing them off someone who can help you consider things that may have slipped your notice. After a purchase we often have a confirmation either way that we made the right decision. After getting the recorder I saw why the extra feature was $45 more and the ability to save the files more than justified the extra money spent.
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