What does the ‘digital age’ mean for physical Christmas? 

happy christmas everybody!

allerleirau via Compfight

An interesting thought struck me recently, whilst downloading yet another eBook, streaming a film, and adding an album to my Spotify playlist. Simultaneously. What happens to Christmas in an age where nothing seems to be physical anymore?

I know it is a very materialistic perspective to have of the Christian festive season, but let’s not be hypocritical here. We all enjoy receiving presents, and giving presents (but mostly receiving). A real cynic would argue that Christmas has become nothing more than a yearly quenching of children’s consumerist impulses. Whether it be socks that take your fancy, or toy dinosaurs, there’s something in it for everyone. And owning material goods = temporary gratification, right?

This obsession that Western society has with material consumption is currently being seriously challenged by the rise of items that, quite simply, destroy the need for physical products. Why buy a physical album for £8.99 when Spotify, the fast-growing music streaming program, charges £9.99 per month for all the music you could ever want? Why carry a clunky book around in your bag when your e-Reader carries thousands?

Granted, I initially found it tricky to adapt to the digital age, being an avid collector of music. Now, I can hardly imagine how I got by without playlists, and mobile streaming. My consumption habits have transformed dramatically, and I rarely buy albums now. The niggling desire to ‘own’ something still eats away at me every now and then, though, as I cave in and purchase an album that I know I don’t really need anymore.

How does this affect children, at Christmas time? Typically, kids like having things to open. Who doesn’t? The tearing of wrapping paper is up there with the best of sensations. But gradually, as we make a transition into the digital age, things will change. Mentalities will change. Instead of books, will people receive gift cards as standard? Perhaps more importantly, will they satisfy that materialistic craving deep within us all? Or, will this materialistic obsession subside over generations, helping our children become (whisper it), better people, as a result?

I truly believe that revolutionary things are happening to our mentalities. Things have been changing for years, since the rise of ‘free culture’ catalysed by illegal downloading. It might seem far-fetched to us, but our children and grandchildren will enter a vastly changed, and changing, world; a world in which materialism is in a strange, unfamiliar stasis.

This video fascinates me:

Do you think that physicality will ever die? What does the rise of the digital age mean for our materialist impulses? Have you made any physical to digital transitions that you never expected to make?