I have never met a washing machine with a clock.
This isn’t the best starting point. What I’m guessing is the case here is that fancy washing machines (outside my remit) have clocks on them, largely to distinguish them from cheap washing machines, which don’t.
I’m guessing this largely because there (a) isn’t much difference between different washing machines and (b) the only difference is posh ones being slightly faster, and they can draw attention to this by telling you how long the washing has taken, semi-unconsciously.
Clocks are a fairly standard additional accoutrement to add to a techy device to make it slightly posher. I reckon you can add up to fifty quid to the price of something expensive and square and necessary if you add a clock. Probably an extra hundred if you also paint it black.
This is because we are fucking mental.
Meaningless accoutrements, perhaps, come in different flavours. Your posh versions of things can dingle (oooh, a kettle that beeps! How futuristic), dongle (ever since I hooked up my fridge to iCloud, I can sync my iPod so it plays “Bad moon rising” when my milk’s gone off) and dangle (we suspended the aga from the ceiling, so now our cat is more ambivalent, just a perfect mix of cosy warmth and abject terror of imminent, cartoony death).
It seems unecessary. Which is the point.
Consumptive behaviour is based on a need for ridiculous upgrading. It has to become fashionable for an item to dingle, dongle or dangle before it can seem necessary for it to do all three. And once an unnecessary becomes necessary for a certain few, the aspiration trickles down and the something new must be added on to create that upper tier again.
I mean. That’s roughly how it works. In fact there’s more absurdity.
The problem with fancy luxury goods, and the aspiration to have them, is that it stops us noticing how ridiculously decadent our lives already are. The simple fact of me having this computer. A tiny mechanical, glowing box connected to a network of most of the world’s knowledge, and a huge portion of the world’s people is currently in my bed.
And even that’s getting a little complicated. I have water running into various places in my home. Some of it is actually hot. I have a large tube with an attachment made for my bum that will actually take away my shit so that I never, ever, ever have to look at it.
We already solve the simple problems of life with huge mechanical wonders. Do we really need to get the new one with the clock on it’s front? The one that dingles? The one that dongles? The one that dangles?
Technically, dangling is quite pretty (if I had to choose that’s what I’d want, by the way, poor kitten).
I’m not quite a luddite. But I am totally against wasteful purchasing. And this makes me an economic barbarian.
We need a rethink.
Illustration by Emma.