Society seems like it is always pushing people to be consumers. Any hobby, sport, or problem you have can be improved or solved by simply buying something. This means that marketing is doing it's job, but I don't believe it leads to actually improving at whatever you're doing. It can also tend to drive you into the poor house as you fill your dwelling with more and more stuff. I've joked with my wife that you get to a certain point in your life that for every pound (non-consumables) of stuff that comes into the house, one pound of stuff should leave. While this sounds good in theory, I'm not sure it's completely realistic.
Photography is one of those holes that you could pour money into and never fill it up. Even as technology improves and gets cheaper, 'real' cameras can still easily set you back way deeper into 4 figures than I'd like to think about. My progression back into photography has been a slowish crawl over the last 3 or 4 years that has honestly probably been too much time surfing the internet, listening to podcasts, and reading stuff and not enough time behind a camera. I didn't go crazy with buying gear and the stuff I did get was all used, but I do have a fair collection of stuff and always was on the lookout for 'good deals' on Ebay and Craigslist.
CJ Chilvers website has inspired me to try to make a tangible change. Spend a little time running through his blog and read his manifesto (manifesto has such an ominous sound doesn't it?). I'm not going to go quite as extreme as he did, but I am going to cull the equipment down to just one DSLR, one lens, one point and shoot (that lives in the car), and the iPhone... Oh.. and the GoPro. My goals are going to be to learn, improve, and once I get some minor PC stuff sorted out, share photo's that I'm proud of.
So... we'll see. I truly believe that putting together a single speed bike a couple of years ago and then riding it, a lot, make significant improvement in my cycling. Maybe adding some constraint's to the photography will help it improve as well.