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Thread: Tired of being a "Consumer"
12-16-2011, 11:42 AM #1
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Tired of being a "Consumer"
Not really a question, just a rant. I am feeling weary of the consumer driven culture. More and more I feel like I cannot get away from advertising and I am simply viewed as eyes on an ad and a purse. I try to limit exposure in my home, but it feel still feels intrusive. I can't read a newspaper or flip through a magazine or watch a bit of TV without someone trying to sell me something. I am curious what other people do when this gets to be too much.
- 12-16-2011, 01:06 PM #2
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Honestly, it usually doesn't sink in for me. I consider commercials to be bathroom breaks, or an opportunity to fetch a snack. Even when I watch, I seldom pursue buying a product I see. I can't be hypnotized either. I don't think the two are unrelated.
I'm seldom watching TV without doing something else, such as a hobby or surfing the web or playing a video game. Those also make it easier to ignore ads.
The irony is without consumers, there aren't jobs. There's no need to have people working to make new things if no one buys them. Our society over the past few years has seen a massive slowdown of consumption, and we all see the result now. We can't have it both ways. Ads indirectly create jobs.12-16-2011, 02:08 PM #3
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The first step, and in a lot of cases, the only practical step is to develop an awareness that it's actually happening.
It's an older clip, but it's just as true today as it has always been:
Story of Stuff The Story of Stuff Project
There are now a number of other short films, all of the "story of" theme. I highly recommend everyone watch the above clip at least, and would personally like to see it shown in schools. It's around 10 minutes I believe.
One of the things I found interesting was the idea of "planned obsolence". A lot of thought has been given to how to design products to last long enough that a consumer will feel they got their money's worth, but will break (or fail or be replaced with an upgraded model) soon enough that profits will keep flowing and sales will stay up. They even go on to talk about the social engineering involved with trending and attempting to make people feel inferior if they have "last year's model".12-16-2011, 03:18 PM #4
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I think these are great conversations to start having, even if they are only with yourself. Like low-1 says, recognizing that it is happening is a large part of the battle.
The easiest way to remove the bulk of advertising from your life is to give up commercial TV (e.g., using something like Netflix instead of cable) and magazines. And once it's gone, I doubt you will miss it.
I don't buy into (ha!) the myth that we need to keep buying things in order to keep the economy running. There are still jobs out there that don't involve making or marketing stuff. Sure, the economy is awful, I am in no way denying that. I am just not willing to shoulder the burden for that because I am not the ideal consumer.
This time of year is an especially interesting time to think about this concept because so many conversations (with friends, family, coworkers, children, on TV, on the internet) are centerered around the buying, giving, and getting of stuff. And so many of those conversations are not positive. Just looking at this message board for a small example: there are innumerable threads about too much stuff/decluttering, consumer debt, gift dilemmas, spoiled children, relatives fighting, and on and on.
OK, this post has gone on long enough, but I have one final thought (for now): Saving money instead of spending it is not shameful!
Good luck in your journey to get off the consumerist track.
Kara12-16-2011, 03:32 PM #5
Guess I am used to tv advertising since more commercials I see seem to be for food. But lately I have been going to different stores and seeing all the things there are out there that you become unaware of when you shop at thirft stores and discount stores.
Although seeing an infomercial first thing in the morning always makes me think I need the product. Luckily I realized this was happening and have yet to purchase an item right then and there.12-16-2011, 03:33 PM #6
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Kara, I agree with most of what you said. About the only thing I disagree with is that we don't need to sell stuff to create jobs. It's hard to think of a job that does not involve creating, marketing, or selling a product in some way.
I've noticed all the angsty threads here too, and how unhappy Christmas seems to make so many people. Not just here, but all over, whether it's people being rude and selfish while shopping in a store or whatever. We opted out of the whole hoopla years ago and are not sorry.
Planned obsolescence annoys the heck out of me. That's why a lot of what I buy is vintage stuff that was made to last. As for roping me into believing I need to have the latest and greatest or I'm a social misfit, good luck with that. I've never been that way my whole life, so I don't see a need to start now. If I buy something it's because it benefits me in some way, not because my neighbor has one.12-16-2011, 04:04 PM #7
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You might enjoy reading about a magazine called adbusters and the idea of the mental environment.
[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adbusters"]Adbusters - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]
What is Mental Environmentalism? | Adbusters Culturejammer HeadquartersThe term is often used in a context critical of the mental environment in industrialized societies. It is argued that just as industrial societies produce physical toxins and pollutants which harm humans physical health, they also produce psychological toxins (e.g. television, excessive noise, violent marketing tactics) that cause psychological damage.
I've read about a study (that I wish I could find now) that links consumerism to TV. That in itself isn't surprising, but what is surprising is the fact that it wasn't the ads getting blamed, but the lifestyles portrayed on the show. Do you remember in the 80s where the tv shows were largely about middle class people? Today for some reason, television and movies are portraying largely upper class and upper middle class people, even people who supposedly have middle class jobs. They're inadvertently normalizing a standard of living that's not sustainable for most people.
If you hear the F word often enough, it's going to stop causing that grating feeling inside your brain that says something is crude. You won't notice it happen, it just does. It's the same with consumerism. You won't really notice when you suddenly have to have all the greatest gadgets or a two sink bathroom and trucker's hat. It just happens.
I think most people will say they're not affected by ads or by television in this way, but the evidence suggest otherwise imo.
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