22 December, 2015
Your eyes widen as you take the snowflake-shaped tin. Is it jewelry? Ear buds? You pull the top off to reveal an Amazon gift card, purchasable in any amount, essentially money. As you use it later to purchase a trinket, you reflect for a moment on the nature of gift-giving. We live in a time of relative prosperity, and the symbolic act of giving gifts has been replaced by a system of value. We’ve invented things to entertain ourselves, as a species, and then, over the centuries, turned them into joyless role-playing games. You enter MOM’S HOUSE. You open SNOWFLAKE TIN. You find GIFT CARD ($50).
As you ponder whether a solution to this problem even exists, the dopamine rush from hitting “Check Out” disrupts your train of thought. Your trinket will arrive in two days. Onward to another tiny puff of dopamine, another click, another ping, another red dot somewhere to be snuffed out. Might check the tracking for the trinket. Might have updated. Might be a little bit of dopamine there.