Society and Artifacts

It has been an odd phenomenon that there were artifacts or possessions that defined someone’s societal worth. In the feudal times, it was titles of nobility and occupation mixed with some ancient relic that contributed to man’s reputation. In contemporary times, it has manifested itself within the incubation of consumerism. Nothing in its own origin essence is valued anymore. Instead, whatever is conjured with the newest novelty is sought after.

Artifacts that defined one’s societal class in previous generations were relics, some rare artifact from an era long ago and it’s rarity was defined by its scarcity. Even down to someone’s collection of vintage coins was there some sort of inherent value as if the action of collecting gave it some force to the credibility of its owners. What is called “Antique” today was something similar to a idol itself.

Then the shift occurred. Something in the utility of the devices sparked a new fascination. Sending letters was overcome by telegram; the telegram surrendered to the radio; the radio enveloped by phone. The telephone gave way to the cellular phone only to be refined into smartphones, devices infused with the computer itself. Culture developed itself to create an item that could do it all. The value of utility sky-rocketed. giant-swiss-army-knife1-640x533

As the items we create today have new and improved features to them, due to the age of technology, those items get an inherent value by their uses. The more an artifact can do, the more sought after it is. We buy Iphones not to place them on a shelf with a spotlight but because culture has made it a standard of one’s social class. Its design is almost like a false ivory, just to deteriorate in value as the new products come to rise. Fascination within novelty items today is only to be usurped by the next product that can accomplish all the previous tasks that the former could plus one.

What people call the “cultural artifacts” reflect the values of their culture. We like communication so we maximize our outlets of communication. We like to be entertained so we create a single device that can entertain us however we want. But as we catch ourselves being sucked into our products, one ought to remind ourselves that there is a world existing outside human’s touch.

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