I was talking to the co-owner of an outstanding bookstore that specializes in rare and new books about food (it’s here), and he was saying there’s been a huge drop in the number of young collectors of antiques. Young people who place a high value on material objects–furniture, books, housewares, clothes, etc.–simply don’t exist anymore.

And why? His theory was this: Not so long ago, Americans identified themselves with their material possessions. Your sofa, your skirt, your blender–these things represented your taste, and your taste represented your identity. You assembled a self by assembling material goods.

Now we assemble our selves visually. A hundred sofas, a hundred skirts–we photograph them or link to them or pin them, and they represent us. What used to be our living room or our closet is now our Pinterest page.