The Death of Owning

The Google generation is fascinating. Children growing up in an age with unlimited access to information at the end of their fingertips. Have a question about sex? Ask google. Forgot to do your homework? Copy and paste Wikipedia.

Its incredible to believe that only twenty years ago none of this was possible. You needed to own books, actually ask real people uncomfortable questions and unless your friend let you copy their work you were screwed if you didn’t do it.


In 2014 I wrote on the massive impact of streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify were having on the power of consumers and disrupting the economy through the digital world. Since then, Uber and Air BnB have further changed the game in the subscription economy, Instagram and Snapchat have become the social currency and more and more people have traded the onerous obligations of ownership for the ease of subscription and service.

The video attached above documents how this massive shift in power from industry to consumer marks the end of the ownership economy and the beginning of the subscription economy.

Young people these days don’t dream of buying a house and a car and working for a big investment bank. They dream of travelling the world, spending on experiences rather than materials and sharing the photos online for the world to see.

Where will this lead us? It has the potential to be as detrimental as it has to be phenomenal. There’s something intimate about owning a physical book or a physical Vinyl record – preserving memories of a time. A place. And a feeling. Subscription on the other hand is highly perishable, its gluttonous, and digital storage is not as familiar as a physical item.

What do you think?

4 thoughts on “The Death of Owning

  1. I think the digital ease of access of information and global capitalism are conflated in this short article. It is indeed helpful and time-saving to be able to access information, share experiences, etc. in the new digital age. But theoretically, what is a “subscription economy”? I think the reference is to our experience in global capitalism and neoliberalism in which, yes, fewer people and the state are “owners” because ownership is being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands of wealthy elites and corporations. Young people may find that it is “cool” to jump into an uber to get around. Yet people are driving ubers because their minimum wage, service-sector jobs don’t pay enough for them to live on. And as the young use uber, taxi-driving, unionized jobs with benefits are being obliterated. And, of course, uber is making money as quickly as it can because its days are numbered since lawyers and insurance companies are hammering out the laws to put driverless cars on the road. Likewise with Airbnb, people tend to rent out their homes to make extra money or because they are retired and and their retirement doesn’t cover expenses. Here in Los Angeles, especially Santa Monica, wealthy apartment building owners were evicting their renters in order to turn their buildings into airbnb locales to make money daily instead of waiting for payments from monthly renters. That’s my opinion on the digital age and the gig economy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m concerned. My thoughts on it could fill a large and very boring book. Essentially though… we are physical beings. The virtual can never suffice.

    Beyond that… our dependence on subscriptions leaves us vulnerable to exploitation and abuse…

    Our society and laws cannot protect us in their current form.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I do not think that most young people dream of traveling for the sole sake of sharing their experiences on the internet.

    “Where will this lead us?”

    We are sacrificing connection for conversation, meaning for usefulness, ethics for efficiency. Like the above commenter stated, the virtual cannot suffice for the physical in the long run. We will realize this, and people will long for the physical. Like a high, this digital obsession will wear off, and we’ll emerge feeling an emptiness for the things we once “owned.”


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