Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Overhead of Contemporary Life

I was listening to an NPR discussion concerning the entry of the music service Spotify into the U.S. market. The basic service is free, but to have the capabilities that any real music fan would want, there is a monthly fee -- of course. It led me to think of all the things we pay for now that were not fees a couple of generation ago, monthly payments that are just a part of contemporary life. Time was it consisted of rent/mortgage, a gas and electric bill, and a phone bill. Then cable/satellite tv came along. Then the cell phone bill. Now, there seems to be so much more.

I'll admit that we're adopters and so we don't incur charges everyone else does. I've never sent a text message, the kids don't have a wii or any other sort of video game thing, I have no ipod or ipad or iphone, no e-reader, we don't subscribe to Netflix, TheWife still uses a film camera and a video camera that is vhs, and we only have one small television in the basement. When the short people have friends come over, they think we're half Amish. We like to say it is because we are thoughtful of defending ourselves from the effects of creeping technology, but it's really because TheWife is a technophobe and I'm just cheap.

So, I'll need some help enumerating the fees that are commonplace now that were not a part of life, say 25 years ago.

Here's a start:

Cell phone bill
High speed internet connection fee
Cable/satellite tv service
Netflix subscription

Has pay radio of the XM variety caught on? Would it need to be added to the list? What else is part of the standard overhead of this American life today?