Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Even More on New

Recently I have posted a couple of entries on the issue of the "new." (, and Although I have had a lot to say about new and old, tradition and innovation, it seems that there is even more to say.

For example, what I have said previously, and what I am about to say, makes it appear that I am a traditionalist who is committed to the status quo. This is not the case. I like new things. I embrace innovation and creativity. I want to know how things work and how we can make them better. I love new stuff.


The current state of our world would have us look at the new in unhealthy ways. New is exalted as always better. The combination of marketing and technological innovation is extremely dangerous.

  • First of all, an emphasis on, and devotion to all things new will usually lead to sensationalism. We want to see the latest and greatest. To get a look at it we have to know about it. Thankfully (please hear the sarcastic tone of my voice), there are marketers to tell us that there new thing is best. Sensationalism is born.

  • Sensational leads to hyperbole. Over and over again we are subjected to claims that cannot be substantiated. "This will make you happy." "That will give you sex appeal." It is sometimes hard to separate a legitimate claim from some one's opinion.

  • If product X is using a celebrity to sell its product, product Y may need to up the ante by providing a testimonial from a real person. Product Z, which is essentially the same as X and Y, might be tempted to make things up. There is a progression here: New leads to sensationalism. Sensationalism leads to hyperbole. Hyperbole leads to lies.

That new version of Windows will not solve all your problems. Likewise, eating the food at Subway will not make you thin. Whether or not we embrace new things, we need to always be grounded in the truth. Be discerning, wise and skeptical.

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