Do computers outpace cars as vehicle of self-expression ?

As a young urbanite, I don’t own a car. Indeed, cars are very expensive nowadays – with oil costing more than 1.50 euro per liter, or $8 a gallon – and public transportation make it quite easy to ditch your car in Paris.

However, I own a computer. I believe it is making a statement about me as I carefully chose each component and assembled them all by myself.  I now have a silent and nice computer that consumes little energy on my desk at home.

Even if I wouldn’t turn down an offer for a Ford Gran Torino (pictured above, ala Starsky and Hutch) or a 1970 Mustang (sorry for the clichés), I don’t need a car, I don’t want a car.

I don’t think I am the only youngster doing so. Indeed, here is a blog post that started my reflection :

One little noticed effect of the Internet revolution has been a significant shift in our emotional attachment toward automobiles. This could have a profound effect on the future of our cities.

The car was once everyone’s prized possession—a symbol of status, manliness and unlimited possibilities.  As early as 1945 novelist John Steinbeck wrote, “Someone should write an essay on the moral, physical and esthetic effect of the Model T. Two generations of Americans know more about the Ford coil than the clitoris.”

(…) But for many of us that’s changing. With all the amazing information, entertainment and communications available on the web, the computer has become our vehicle for exploration and self-fulfillment.

(…) This trend favoring gigabytes over horsepower are being closely followed by the real estate industry. A recent report from GWL Realty Advisors in Toronto notes:

“There is also growing research that younger generations do not relate to the automobile as enabling ‘freedom.’ Instead, their electronic and social media devices – whether a smart phone, small laptop computer, music player, etc. – provide an alternative means for self-expression and being free to do what they want….

Younger generations seem to have less interest in automotive use, making apartment living in dense, walkable and transit-oriented urban areas a more natural fit for their lifestyles.”

The implications for our communities are enormous. As cars become seen as just one form of transportation among many, not as a measure of our self-worth, then the stigma long attached to buses, bikes, trains and walking will fade.

What do YOU think ?

2 thoughts on “Do computers outpace cars as vehicle of self-expression ?”

  1. Une enquête à l’échelle de l’Europe a été faite et la conclusion est la même : les jeunes préfèrent leur iPhone a une voiture.

    Voir Jeremy Rifkin sur le sujet, L’Age de l’Acces ou le dernier sur l’empathie !

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