On one of the board gaming forums I frequent the term, “Cult of the new” is frequently tossed about by posters. What they’re referring to are all the new games that come out each year. They’re new, hot, and hyped to the max. People pay exorbitant amounts of money to get their hands on the limited first printing, or buy the games before other people have even played and reviewed them. This is called, “Chasing the cult of the new.” What often happens, though, is that six months later people have actually played those games and found them lacking. Six months down the road those games that people paid hundreds of dollars for can be found for a fraction of that price, either because the game was successful and got a second, larger, printing or because it was a bad game it fell off the radar.
The cult of the new isn’t limited to board games. It’s found in electronics, video games, computers, clothes, toys, music and even books. People chase the cult of the new in almost every area, often paying top prices for things that turn out not to have been worth it. Had they merely waited a couple of months, they would have been able to read the reviews of those other early adopters and make an informed decision.
What makes it so hard to wait is that we’re wired to like new things. Our brains crave stimulation and new products certainly provide it. When you’re looking at a closet full of older items, that new, swanky thing seems pretty cool, no matter how much you may love and value your “old faithfuls.”The ting is, if you want to save money you have to learn to be okay with being behind. I’ve reached a point where I’ve trained my brain to get excited by things that are older and tested.
When I wait a while to buy something while I wait for the reviews, patches, and updates to come out, I tell myself that I’m not missing out, I’m simply delaying. The thing will still be new to me when (or if) I buy it. I’ll still get the joy of having something new and I won’t have the anxiety that comes with paying too much, chasing a hard to find item, or regretting the purchase when it turns out not to be so great. I’ll get the joy of an item I know will meet my needs and I will have money left over for something else. I remind myself over and over that the negatives of buying something the minute it hits the shelf are too great. (If that doesn’t work, all I have to do is remember some of the times that I did chase the cult of the new and ended up disappointed, annoyed, and sorry that I’d bothered. And there have been more than a few times in my life when I’ve made this mistake, so it’s not hard to find examples.)
Granted, there have been times that I’ve missed out on something by employing this approach. Things that were truly limited editions or that were good products but for whatever reason ended up discontinued have come and gone without ending up in my clutches. Sometimes it’s disappointing but I take the attitude that if I wasn’t sure at the time, delaying was the best decision even if it cost me the item. It’s not like I truly needed whatever it was for my very survival, and it’s not like I don’t have lots of other things that bring me joy. I’m better off having the money that I didn’t spend than I am with yet another physical item that may or may not have been great for me.
Chasing the cult of the new can become an expensive sport. Besides the money, though, chasing the newest things means that you often miss out on the great things you already have. I know there are a lot of great games in my collection that I’ve only begun to fully explore. I have a long way to go to master many of them. If I buy more new games, it means that my old ones will get less play time and I might never discover all the great things they have to offer. It’s this way with many things. Instead of chasing the newest everything, work on fully appreciating and using the things you already have.
(Photo courtesy of renaissancechambara)