Consumerism, and Breaking that State of Mind
by B.J. Delas Armas
on 10/08/2007 09:59:00 AM
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"You know why we have houses? It’s so we can keep all our stuff in them. And when we buy a new house and we have to buy more stuff to fill our house" - George Carlin
Born. Breathe. Eat. Drink. Shit. Fuck. Die.
I guess that sums up human existence in 7 words or less. I'm not really sure what else is supposed to happen afterwards, but from visual, auditory, and other sensory cues, it looks like that's about it.
Often times I have this craving to buy something to make myself feel better.
If I get this McDonalds' Sundae and consume it, my life will be much more complete.
Even though I will have added an unnecessary 400 calories to my diet. And will probably function at a slower rate.
But at least my taste buds will have experienced a temporary positive stimulation.
If I buy and spend time playing FIFA 08, even though there are approximately 34,734,833,743,829,347,384,323 things that I could do that would lead to something more useful.
These are amongst some of the most difficult issues I must deal with on a daily basis.
I take the perspective that I have been given a lot while others not so much. I juxtapose that belief with the classic maxim pressing my mind: with much power comes much responsibility.
The result? I've been trying not to give into excess and temptation. No dollar donuts, no eating out, no traveling or using the car if I could help it, limit computer and technology use outside of "work" to about 3 hours a day.
I call these things "excess" and "temptation" because they aren't really "needed" in the sense of the sustenance that simple water and food give me.
Giving into those temptations usually only temporarily satisfies some decidedly shallow desires.
It seems like when I do give in, it's only to make myself "feel better," as if some sort of balance will be achieved if I give into the temptation.
But then I realize something. Kids from Brazilian favelas playing soccer with home-made balls don't have this luxury.
In all likelihood, they don't have this similar temptation because they aren't exposed to it. In other words, they probably don't need to play FIFA 07 to restore some sort of balance to their lives. It probably isn't a part of their world, so it's not going to help restore some kind of balance for them. For that matter, they probably also don't need an In-N-Out cheeseburger, a Diddy-Reise chocolate chip cookie, a bottle of Heineken, thai BBQ chicken, an iPhone or iPod, 20-inch rims, to restore a feeling of balance. Parents from these favelas probably aren't taking their kids to Disneyland or even movie theatres to elicit a sense of "fun."
It would be interesting however to find out what they do actually need to live balanced lives, and how the powers that be has probably limited access to it.
In conclusion, if it's simply this feeling of balance that needs to be achieved whenever one needs to consume and engage in their brand of 'fun", can't the American human middle-class mind find a way to self-engineer it without spending money? Or are we hard-wired to consume?
Perhaps not these freegans
The freegans are a group of people who attempt to live off what people throw away, be it abandoned buildings in your city, food, or electronics. What strikes me is that they are independent people, somewhat free from the system. It seems that they get their enjoyment out of "foraging"/finding things and making something out of it.
To me it seems like the feeling of balance is achieved when you are in a similar situation and do exactly that --- independent and making something out of nothing (or whatever is perceived as nothing). The balance seems to happen you are free from the need to sustain a string of short-term pleasures like buying a new car or even consuming a chocolate bar, and keep control of your mind.
And an Onion Satire
Labels: Consumerism, Human Evolution, War on Poverty (or lack thereof)