After reading Turtkle’s article and understanding her point of “things that matter”, we looked to ourselves for the objects we value and find have significant social meaning to us. The first thing that came to mind for me is one object that has meant a lot to me since the day my parents purchased it–my Kawai baby grand piano.
Although this was actually the second piano my parents bought for me, but the first one wasn’t as nice as this Kawai. My Kawai became more than just a piano to me. It became something that brought my family together and warmed the house. Every night when it was time for me to practice I would encourage my mom to sit in the newly designated piano room and listen to me play. It didn’t matter if I hit some wrong notes or didn’t meet the tempo of songs perfectly. I could make my mother cry by manipulating the shiny white keys and that’s something I couldn’t do with any other object.
I built my own computer when I was about 15 or 16 years old with the help of my brother Daniel, a Computer Science major at Georgia Tech. He and I have been playing video games since our parents introduced us to the PC and video games when we were young. I saved up some money and he helped me shop for some pretty amazing hardware at the time to build what my Grandad liked to call “a barn burner”. Since then, I’ve been using it to frag people online, make new friends, discover online worlds, and work through school. I sometimes refer to it as “my baby” sometimes, jokingly, because I maintain it through its ups and downs and still play it hard to this day.
It was surprising to me when the candle came to mind as a social object. For some reason I prefer candlelight to artificial light when I’m at my desk because it gives a much nicer atmosphere. I find it amazing how fire was the first social object that was discovered and yet in this constrained form, it retains a meaning of warmth, comfort, relaxation, and romance. Like physical books, newspapers, and cuckoo clocks, the candle is one of those objects that gives us an atmosphere that no other object can replace.
The watch, or my watch as pictured, is an object that is often used socially. Asking a total stranger what time it is to break the ice or simply gain the information is always acceptable. It also makes for a fine accessory and says a lot about someone’s status or sense of style if you’re trying to analyze someone you’ve never met. Often times a watch will also be a common family heirloom that is passed from Grandfather to Son and so on.
The last object I thought I should mention is the shoe. Pictured is my shoe collection, the several pairs that I value most. Why? Because shoes say a lot about a person and to me they represent who I am a bit. Every pair of shoes I buy has a little bit of a story behind it and they’re all good conversation starters. From the Adidas x Star Wars collaboration to the Adult Swim inspired Etnies collaboration to the Japanese inspired Lucky Cats, the sneaker world is certainly full of interesting products.