About a quarter of the way into her writing, Bowles invokes Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute. Pedraza’s organization “advises companies on how the wealthiest want to live and spend,” and is now benefitting from what he calls “the luxurification of human engagement.” If you’re wondering what that means, don’t feel stupid, because the dictionary doesn’t know either.
In any case, the phrase suggests that the rich now view screen-time as a vulgar leisure activity, one offered to those who can’t afford anything else. To some, digital devices now smell like fast food. Over at Quillette, Clay Routledge has written about this phenomenon. Scores of other authors, researchers, and speakers have been desperately offering their advice on this topic to anyone willing to listen over the better part of the last decade.
Other renowned philosophers have noted this: “When possessions are too common, you start selling experiences.” “[L]uxuries turn into commonplaces, commonplaces into luxuries.” There’s no point in bemoaning the frivolity of it; one might as well despair over the changing of the seasons. A highly social species needs to invent social distinctions, no matter how absurd. I’ve heard it said that the people who truly got rich from the California Gold Rush were the ones selling shovels and picks. Likewise, I think it’s time to dust off my old toys and games from the ’70s and ’80s to provide today’s well-off tots with an optimal analog experience.