Recently I proposed an idea for a new website called the anti-social network, but it didn’t seem to drum up much excitement, or venture capital. Okay, forget that. I have another big idea.
First, a quick quiz: what do new parents, newlyweds and pedophiles have in common?
That’s right: they’re all registered.
For years, registries have been great ways for people who are beginning new chapters in their lives to make their greed much more efficient and ensure that they receive exactly the $1,500 Royal Copenhagen dinner plate they desire. It’s also helpful to the givers as it takes the guesswork out of shopping. Personally, I never know what to get the registered sex offenders in my neighborhood.
But, like virtually all good ideas, the gift registry has been taken to ridiculous extremes.
There’s a honeymoon registry now, where friends and family of the loving couple can give them airfare, hotel rooms, dinners, excursions, massages, and so on. You can tell a lot about a couple from their requests…and when I say “you can tell” I literally mean “you.” Or me. Because many of these registries are public for anyone to see.
Nicole and Thomas (I’m not giving their last names, but the site does) are going to Vegas on their honeymoon. We know they are adventurous because they want an indoor parachute jump. We also know they are not big gamblers because they want $40 for “a night at the blackjack table.” Ali and David, on the other hand, are looking for a much more exotic honeymoon. They want to go to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Koh Kood, and Bali. Or maybe they want to go to Bangkok and eat some Chiang Mai. I’ve never heard of Chiang Mai or Koh Kood, so I have no idea.*
Even Dodge has a gift registry now. That would be “Dodge” as in the car company. I don’t know what the occasion is, or why Dodge believes anyone would want to get them a gift. After all, we already gave them a nice gift when we bailed out Chrysler.
Wait–this just in: The Dodge Gift Registry isn’t to get Dodge a gift, it’s to buy a Dodge Dart.
Evidently, someone goes to the website, customizes a Dart just the way they like it, and then asks friends and relatives to help pay for it. For instance, Mike in Toledo, OH has picked out a Dodge Dart in a really ugly orange color. People have paid for his parking break lever, his daytime running lamps and his floor console with sliding armrest, but he’s still looking for a few things like the steering column and the speedometer, without which he will not be able to control where he’s going or how fast he’s getting there.
I don’t think the car registry idea is catching on. As I write this, about 300 people have registered for a Dodge Dart, and most of the cars requested are less than 10% funded. And then what? I mean, it’s one thing if you don’t get a complete set of china, but what are you going to do with random car parts?**
All these various registries are requesting gifts from people the registrants know. But there are also many websites where folks beg for money from complete strangers.
At Pledge Music, you can give musicians money to make an album. The musicians will then thank you by sending you the CD or, if you give a lot of money, autographing things: posters, CDs, shirts, lyric sheets, guitar picks or literally anything they have laying around, including furniture. Some will even come to your home to perform in person if you give them enough money. You know, like an outcall service.
At Kiva, you can invest in the businesses of poor people in foreign countries, such as Nolia in the Philippines who would like to expand her general store business by actually stocking it with merchandise. (Currently, her slogan is “Whatever you want, we’re out of it.) I use the word “invest” lightly; your stock broker would probably frown on it if you tried to add Nolia’s store to your portfolio.
At Kickstarter, you can fund all sorts of projects, from movies to inventions, like the LIFX Lightbulb that you can control from your iPod or iPad instead of the old-fashioned way, by flicking a switch. I guess it’s the digital version of The Clapper. The best use I can see for this is to turn the lights on and off from a remote location in an attempt to convince family members there’s a poltergeist in your house.
So now we come to my idea. Much has been written about the fact that most Americans have not saved nearly enough for retirement. I know we certainly haven’t, at least according to our financial advisor, who thinks we might as well start stocking up on Ramen noodles now.
So I think there should be a retirement registry. Let’s call it Goldwatch.com. You register at the sight, and let people know exactly what sorts of things you need. They can fund your condo, your bingo expenses, your false teeth, your Early Bird dinners, your hearing aids, your travel, your new hip, whatever.
Of course, I’ll be taking a small percentage off the top. You know, so I can retire.
See you soon.
*I looked them up: they are places in Thailand. So Ali and David are really only going to two places, Thailand and Bali, but are showing off by mentioning these other exotic-sounding locales. I don’t like show-offs so I’m not going to get them anything.
**Apparently, if your car doesn’t get completed, you get the money that was collected, minus “5% commission fee + 4% payment processing fee.” Dodge, realizing they may not be able to stay in business selling cars, is apparently trying to make money by not selling cars.