I'm a high school dropout. I have no college under my belt, and only a GED. I'm 23. I do however, have MCITP: Enterprise Administrator, CCNA, and am actively pursuing MCITP: DBA, CISSP, PMP, and RHCE. Am I cert farming? Yes. I'd openly admit it in an interview too. I've forgotten a great deal of what I learned in preparation for my CCNA, and I will likely forget a great deal more about my future certs. What-more, I payed $10,000 in 2010 for cert training, and will drop $6,500 more this year. $16.5k (half my 2010 salary) on certs that I don't yet directly use.
Why would I do this? Because it exposes me to new technologies. I could learn it myself, sure; but the certification requirements and training will help me know that I've gotten everything out of it that I need. Quick example: In any 2000 functional level Active Directory domain, a NON-administrator user can add up to 10 computers to the domain by default. I have INTERVIEWED over a dozen people with experience managing domains, and nobody yet has known this.
Certs are a tool. Like many other things, they are up for interpretation and can arguably mean nothing. However, if you use them to fuel your passion, and push you in new directions, it doesn't matter what a prospective employer thinks about the individual certs you have, your passion will win you the job.