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Do you know what a commodity is? Economically speaking, a commodity is something that's replacable. A group of things where each item of that group is generally indistingishable from each other. Things like oil or iron or wheat or cotton or coffee. Generally speaking, one bushel of wheat or one barrel of oil is identical to every other - people who want a barrel of oil can generally accept any oil barrel from anywhere. Fun fact: Chicago is home to the CME or the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which is the larget commodity exchange in the world.

Of course there are a lot of things that are not commodities. Most things, in fact. Books are not commodities. One gripping mystery thriller can not be seamlessly swapped out for any other - each one is unique. Furniture is not a commodity, things like beds and sofas can be quite different and most people wouldn't trade theirs out for any other. Lots of things work this way - or do they?

Even though I'd say that many things, like say television series, are not commodities, I think there are some kinds of people and some kinds of shows that become more commodity than art. Say the middle aged consumer of soap operas who treats every Turkish drama like an interchangeable puzzle piece. As long as something Turkish and dramatic is on the TV, they will be happy. Or perhaps with clothing. Shirts and pants and jackets might be mostly interchangeable, as long as the clothing is warm and clean. Here, individual articles of clothing might be considered be a mere commodity. Shoes as well, are sometimes fought over as a fashion icon, and other times are nothing more than the thin layer of plastic separating the ground from your feet.

I think it's interesting how sometimes people treat things that you'd think should be unique and special like commidities. It's not just TV shows and clothing, it could be anything really. It's always kind of funny when people treat certain things like commodities that other people put a lot of time and effort into caring about. Oh you put 100 hours into comparing cars, their engines, horsepower, insurance, reliability, performance? Nah bro, get a Honda Civic and call it a day. A car is a car right?

What's even more interesting, though, is when people take things that seem like they should be commodities but then instead treat them like they are not. Say perfume. I'm not really a perfume person myself, but from my perspective perfume is for the most part interchangeable as long as it's not too expensive and it smells good. But some people really put a lot of thought and care into their scents. They pick specific smells, they have different perfumes for different occasions. Each one has meaning and connotations and a story behind it. I don't understand it but I find it fascinating.

I mean I'm similar with some things like soap. There's a lot of people who treat soap as a commodity. Keep 3 or 4 in store, or maybe even buy it in bulk and refill the dispenser to save money. I, on the other hand, like to spend more time and money when it comes to choosing soap. I guess I just like it feels in your hand, so I go out of my way to find creative and different looking soaps. When I run out it's exciting because I get to buy and try a new kind. It's not a commodity for me at all.

I have an interesting relationship with food, and sometimes I also treat that as something of a commodity. A calorie is a calorie, and when I'm lazy or tired all food looks the same to my undiscerning taste buds. Of course I know people who are the opposite, there's nothing that matters more to them than having a proper meal at a proper time.

So some things in our lives are interchangeable and replaceable, and other things are selected with care as a reflection of our personalities. I think a lot of the criticism towards modern and minimalist movements in places like art and interior design come from treating things as commodities. IKEA is kind of an example of this - they pare down their catalog and make it so generic that it becomes a standard modern minimalist white sofa/bed/chair/table instead of anything that could offend someone's sensibilities.

But that's the great advantage of commodities. If they're all replacable, then they can be produced at scale and easy to find. You're never too far from being able to replace your standard minimalist coffee mug with a dozen similar items. But that's also what makes it hard to stand out and differentiate yourself. I think that's one of the coolest part about people, that you can take anything, no matter how generic and imprint meaning and value onto it.

All sorts of things that may seem like commodities at first glace, from furniture to cutlery to plants, become meaningful and irreplacable because we make them so. By simply deciding that they are special and one of the kind, they instantly become so. No matter how generic or replacable something may initally seem, there may be a story behind it. And if there is no story behind it, you can choose to give it one and make it feel way more interesting (at least to yourself).

I think this comes naturally to humans. Even as children we want to name things and personify them. We say goodnight to the moon and tell stories about how our food is looking forward to being it. Meaning just naturally flows off of interesting people and into the objects around them. A person who is truly unique and vivacious can't possibly have any commodities - stories and meaning can't help but find its way into the things that they own. And I think that's not only really cool, but something each of us can cultivate to add more meaning into the things we have.