Do Make Believe Histories Add Value to Our Objects?
What adds value to the items we own? Beyond quantifiable and tangible factors like price, performance and comfort, we find slightly more vague notions that rely more on an emotional than intellectual response. Attaching meaning in this way, is a phenomenon Rob Walker calls an object’s narrative, the memories we associate with inanimate things, from their provenance to their mere existence at significant points in our lives. It helps explain why we hang on to wedding dresses when they no longer fit and refer to beat-up caps as our “lucky hats.” But what happens to value when we learn the stories behind objects that we never actually experienced or even more so when those same histories are made up?
Walker along with Joshua Glenn and an impressive cadre of writers explore these very questions with their newly launched project Significant Objects. For the experiment, each writer is assigned a seemingly insignificant object that has been purchased at a Thrift Store for a few dollars and tasked with creating a story about it. The narratives will not only be posted on the website, but used as the product’s description on eBay where they will be auctioned off to the highest bidder, with all proceeds going to the author. And while the objects themselves might be worthless, the stories are bound to be worth every cent.
Related Post: Happiness Objectified: Do Our Things Make us Happy?