• Patrick McAndrew

Basking In Human Luxury

The New York Times published an article recently titled, “Human Contact Is Now a Luxury Good,” written by technology reporter, Nellie Bowles. In it, she discusses how screens and technology used to be reserved for the wealthy and advances being made were only to be accessed by a select few.

Now, with technology accessible to the masses, luxury is being flipped on its head. It’s now a status symbol to be off devices. Bowles writes, “The rich have grown afraid of screens. They want their children to play with blocks, and tech-free private schools are booming. Humans are more expensive, and rich people are willing and able to pay for them. Conspicuous human interaction — living without a phone for a day, quitting social networks and not answering email — has become a status symbol.”

I only got a smartphone a few months ago and before that I was the butt of many jokes when it came to technological advancement. “So, Pat, when are you going to join this century?” and “I feel like you are limiting yourself” were common phrases being said at me. Though I decided to try out the hype of the smartphone (and I’m still seriously considering going back), I did feel like I had an advantage of sorts that I still try to exercise, even though I have succumbed to societal conformity.

While isolation, anxiety, depression, and loneliness are on the rise, humans are beginning to value genuine, authentic relationships even greater. They are becoming more valuable and, as such, the elite have their eyes on the prize. This won’t change any time soon. Technology is only continuing to advance and the value of human relationships will only increase as technology continues to do so.

We have arrived at a point in time where it is difficult to make eye contact. We suffer anxiety attacks and go into complete chaos if we lose our phone for a minute. We are at the beck and call of those pushing their agendas at us via email. We can’t hold ourselves back from replying to a text or seeing how many likes and followers we have. Refresh, refresh, refresh.

This is behavior that the wealthy of the world don’t want to be associated with. There is a trend moving towards the power of presence and, perhaps most importantly, being in control of your own day and life. If you don’t want to be available, you don’t need to be. If you have complete control, you have a great deal of power. The rich are beginning to invest in this because they are seeing the value in human relationships over technological gadgets.

The luxury industry specializes in items and experiences of rare quality, only accessible to those with the financial means and power to acquire them. This elevates the importance of luxury. Individuals crave being one of the special few to own a certain thing or live a certain experience. Because everyone is on their smartphones, reacting to society at their fingertips, it isn’t special. It’s normal. It’s average. And the luxury industry does not specialize in average.

It is interesting to note this trend. As human relationships become more and more valuable, we all must ask ourselves if we want to distinguish ourselves from the group and invest in those relationships, or if we would prefer to stick with the masses and be attached to our phones. There is not necessarily a right or wrong, but countless studies have shown that relationships are the greatest key to happiness, while screen time and social media are heavily to blame for the influx of depression and anxiety. Why not invest in relationships and join an emerging elite group?

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