The PlayStation 3 will be released upon us poor Americans in about 30 minutes. A couple of folks got in line in San Francisco to get their system. $500 or $600 (no game included) later for the first few and the rest will go home without the prize.
Is it worth it? The system I’m getting is $250, with a game, and they made enough of the things that I don’t have to wait in line for more than an hour (and that hour will be mostly meet and greet/nerd observation time and buying an extra controller). Is that worth it?
A few years ago I wrote about buying a video game system and how it relates to my faith. It’s just over five years later. While I won’t be backing away from playing video games any time soon, the hysteria over the 11/17 release of the PS3 gives me pause about what we think is really important.
A good number of folks buying the PS3 will turn around and sell it on eBay. That’s possibly wise since they’ll probably make enough cash to buy another PS3 and still have a profit ($1200 or more on the sale). Their pursuit is mostly money, but also a nearly free video game console (the cost being a few hours or day waiting in line).
Other will keep their system. Their pursuit is entertainment, joy, happiness, whatever it is they happen to get from video games (or Blu-Ray movies or whatever else the behemoth PS3 does).
The majority of the world won’t buy any of these systems. What is their pursuit?
Some look at these lines and shake their heads in wonder or pity or sadness over what the world has become. Most of the people I know who think little of such actions have lives of such quality that they can do so with some (if not great) integrity. But I also imagine that people I don’t know aren’t in the same boat. They have their own pursuits that they’d wait in a figurative line for days to attain. And those in line for a PS3 look at them shaking their heads in wonder and pity.
I realized this morning that we, as a people, are much like hobbits. Tolkien opens his greatest story with a preface Concerning Hobbits. He tells us of their love of simple pleasures; beer, pipe-weed, well-tilled earth. We read about how all hobbits love to fill their homes with books that are filled with things they already know. Geneaologies are particularly important and much time should be spent knowing exactly how you are related to everyone in every possible way (which, of course, you already knew). Things are done properly or not at all and so long as everyone obeys The Rules, things go on as always and life is full of contentment.
I wonder how hard it would be to think of us in the same way.
Humans are a curious people. They love to make moving pictures of themselves and then watch them together on giant screens. They each attempt to own a vehicle that are used to get around. Then they make a great deal about how quickly they can get there and how many people were in their way, but never do anything about them.
Humans don’t really remember much about where they came from, but they are sure that their current location, wherever it may be, is quite nice. They’ve organized themselves into groups that generally mind their own business, but do interact well when needed. Sometimes they don’t interact well, but things work themselves out over time (though they rarely remember this fact in the midst of the fighting).
At the end of the day, humans head back to their homes, which they generally keep above ground and always locked up tight. Humans like to have their space and their privacy and their homes in good order according to their station and likes (particularly the American Humans).
And for some events, they line up with other humans from any and all of the other groups. Sometimes it’s for a new gadget. Other times it’s for the moving pictures they make. Still others to say farewell to one who recently passed away. Sometimes humans in one line look at the humans in another line and think the others silly.
But they’re all rather silly.
If every they stopped to realize it, something amazing would happen.
*I don’t actually know that only ten PS3’s were sold for this line, but I’m sure over half are going home empty-handed.