Featurephilia: the dull throb of consumerism

Do you remember ever getting a new computer and exploring every menu option, port, and drive, just because you were excited to find out what it could do? Have you ever noticed that your phone's printed manual is heavier than your phone itself?

My phone plays music. It is not, however, an iPod. So when a friend gave me an extended mix to listen to while driving, I wanted a way to note which songs I liked. But my phone has no "favorites" or "stars" function. I felt frustrated by this, and then I immediately felt the absurdity of the situation. What vanishingly tiny fraction of my wellbeing is represented by the ability to grade the quality of my entertainment options while moving at 70mph?

I think Moore's Law has accustomed us to having every electronic feature we need, and about three times as many that we don't need. And by "need" I mean the geek definition, which is roughly "remembered and used at least once after the first week of ownership". When we actually want a feature that isn't there, we feel slightly shocked and indignant.

But a music player's favorites function is completely unnecessary. Food is necessary; shelter and safety are necessities. Music is just nice. Having so much music that you can't remember which songs you liked is really an embarrassment of riches. A first world problem.

At this point maybe I should launch into an anti-consumerist tirade, or postulate that this excess spoils us for simple pleasures. But I'm tired. I've been ground down to a nub of enamel, bone, and tattered flesh by forces I can't even name. Maybe it's all the attention I pay to unnecessary things.