Saturday, January 28, 2012

A step or ten away from the consumer society

As a rule I don’t buy many things, period, not until I have to, really. I keep using things long after most people would throw it away. Every scarp of food is used, like for instance yesterday’s leftovers.

I still use most of the furniture my parents bought forty-five years ago. It’s clearly worn, but in tiptop shape, solid workmanship I’ll probably use until my death.

When the only television set I’ve ever bought broke down last year, I didn’t buy another, but stopped watching television altogether (and freed myself and my creativity from yet another prison and wrong focus). I’ve bought only three new computers and two cell phones in fifteen years. Owning the newest fad has never been very important to me. My current phone has only SMS and calling capability. I don’t need to be on the Internet all the time and I certainly don’t need to send people lots of photographs or listen to music while I go, and fairly old computers are completely, totally powerful enough these nights.

And don’t get me started on Apple and their popular products. I despise them, even before considering the horrible places their products are made. No one should buy Apple products, no one at all. It is difficult today to find any company with a deserved good reputation, but Apple is the worst of the worst. Steve Jobs was an asshole, to be kind and it is mind-boggling how some people look at him with awe in their eyes.

The reason I mention Apple here is because they are the typical form without content or form with fairly useless content company, selling and creating things people don’t need, fooling people into craving what is basically a mirage. They are not the only one doing that, but as stated one of the very worst.

When I buy something fairly expensive I do so after months of pondering. Even when I was fairly wealthy I didn’t waste my resources on baubles, but on what was further enhancing my enjoyment of life. My fundamental philosophy didn’t change at all. I could just do more of what I loved, that’s «all».

Fashion is definitely one of my pet peeves. I hate it with a passion and buy clothes only every second or third year or so. I have very little respect for people buying new clothes once a month, quite frankly. Even poor people use their meager funds on the latest popular item. They behave like idiots and help uphold a beyond insane system of consumerism. How empty their lives must be. Fashion is empty, like a broken eggshell.

And it's even worse than that (as it usually is). Children of poor parents are bullied when they don't show up with the good stuff, this month's clothes, cell phones and all. Some parents feel they have to use all their money on keeping their children «current».

It’s an old adage. People fill their existence with things, instead of getting a life. It’s yet another well known phenomenon of smoke and mirrors, but people keep getting fooled, keep surrendering to their automatic functions, to the brainwashing of the consumer society. Advertising and the stick and carrot method easily pushes their buttons. And advertising isn’t merely selling products we don’t need, but, and far more important, really also a way of life (or rather death). Unhealthy women, for instance are portrayed as the ideal, healthy women are implied to be fat. Many young girls suffer and die in anguish and despair because they don’t fit the current inch-deep society definition of successful or «perfect».

Those factors and others would be horrible even if they weren’t an integrated part of the process destroying life on Earth.

To save ourselves and life on the planet we need to do a lot more than to reject the consumer society, but that would be one great start, and it would make us human again, not objects to be measured and discarded like garbage.

It is possible, and not even hard, but just takes that simple shift in perspective, a few simple changes in attitude and action.


Karen Martin Sampson said...

I had just posted about my decision to boycott Apple and not get the iPad that I had thought a lot about buying, until I started to read about all the awful things going on in the factories where these things are made. We don't buy a lot of stuff - cancelled the satellite tv over a year ago, have a cheap, pay-as-you-go cell phone and only use about twice a month and for emergencies; lots of our stuff is second or third hand. We live simply and cheaply compared to most people I know. Then I read your post and thought, wow, you have the right idea. Hope more people give this some thought.

Amos Keppler said...

Thank you, Karen, it's crucial that people open their eyes for both this and many other unpleasant truths surrounding us all these days.