On Consumer Choice And The Quest For Meaning

666girlsVia The New Inquiry Rob Horning warns that attempting to express our identities has become a zero-sum game:

Consumerism is sustained by the ideology that freedom of choice is the only relevant freedom; it implies that society has mastered scarcity and that accumulating things is the primary universal human good, that which allows us to understand and relate to the motives of others.

Choosing among things, in a consumer society, is what allows us to feel autonomous (no one tells us how we must spend our money) and express, or even discover, our unique individuality — which is proposed as the purpose of life. If we can experience ourselves as original, our lives will not have been spent in vain. We will have brought something new to human history; we will have been meaningful. (This is opposed to older notions of being “true” to one’s station or to God’s plan.)

The quest for originality collides with the capitalist economic imperative of growth. Making more choices seems to mean a more attenuated, bigger, more successful self. Originality can be regarded as a question of claiming more things to link to ourselves and combining them in unlikely configurations.

As we articulate our identities within attention-depleting media, recognition increasingly becomes a zero-sum game; one’s recognized identity comes at the expense of another’s in that it steals attention away. The problem worsens as this recognition becomes not a mere matter of ontological security but economic viability, as digital labor (personal brand building, etc.) becomes a required prerequisite for other work, or the only kind of (precarious) work available. This leads to an accompanying ‘administration’ of one’s life that takes the form of an endless to-do list.

91 Comments on "On Consumer Choice And The Quest For Meaning"

  1. Liam_McGonagle | Dec 4, 2013 at 1:18 pm |

    To not participate at all, this is the ultimate freedom.

  2. I try and consume as little as I can. Not really into stuff anyway, much more interested in experiences. So I drive a beater, cook meals at home most of the time, buy whatever I can either used, recycled or from non-corporate, individual businesses. Love me some thrift shops and Craigslist.

    • Jin The Ninja | Dec 4, 2013 at 2:45 pm |

      same. i won’t deny my love of the things within my own very narrow catagories of interest.- but it’s always artisanal or vintage. craigslist is an amazing place to find furniture or electronics.

      • emperorreagan | Dec 4, 2013 at 2:57 pm |

        I’ve gotten so cranky with respect to things in general that I don’t even like buying records anymore. I like smashing things, though.

      • Rhoid Rager | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:33 am |

        I’ve been searching for an analogue to Kijiji or Craig’s list here in Japan, but I haven’t been satisfied with anything I’ve found. All the potential sites are trying to squeeze yen outta the user.

        • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:38 am |

          rakuten isn’t good? i’ve ordered j-denim from there before, but i don’t have a real idea if the pricing for household goods is anywhere in the realm of decent. one thing about living in japan, is that you can potentially find some good deals on tansu and the like. i find craigslist to be pretty ladden with ikea and overpriced victorian reproductions- it takes a scour to find anything decent.

          • Rhoid Rager | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:50 am |

            For basic shopping for needed goods, yeah rakuten is fine. But I’m talking about the ancillary services, offers, information one can get out of kijiji or craig’s list. Like carpooling, requests for help, potential trading partners and so on. I haven’t found decent message board sites here, but maybe I’m not looking that hard enough.

            True that sitting on a tatami floor (or even with feet in sunked in kotatsu) is nice, but my shitty right knee and i enjoy sofas. And dried squid is probably some of the best food to accompany beer that i’ve ever had. Were you in Japan for long?

            aren’t you in ontario now? it’s cold and miserable as fuck there now, i see. I was in Ottawa until June, then came here and wondered why i even put up with Ottawa winters for 7 years. lol.

          • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 1:25 am |

            i think the message board culture in e. asia is very interesting but so complex, my head spins thinking about it. if you’ve exhausted the english ex pat forums maybe try one of the local community associations. maybe face-2-face is better? i know it can be hard as a gaijin to break formality and get people to speak openly. there is a small, but supposedly active japanese voluntarist/anarchist scene according to the forums over at libcom. you could also try the anti-nuclear groups as a starting point.

            i am a huge japanese food-otaku, if there is such a thing. i do a pretty mean sukiyaki (and speaking frankly it is only one of 5 recipes i can manage). i lived in asia off and on for around a decade. i was fortunate enough to go on a few jaunts to japan when i had school breaks- and when i was older and my sibling was working in HK, we’d go for a few days here and there. i’ve still never been to hokkaido or okinawa, and i’d love to go. in my personal opinion i’ve always been extremely partial to osaka over tokyo.

            yes, unfortunately i live in ont. lol. maybe it’s the french-metis talking but i never have minded the winter. it’s the damp-cold i find absolutely unliveable. i am always threatning to move, and i’ve made it my mission to do so in the next 2 years.

          • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 1:59 am |

            “If it can’t be commodified, it might as well not even exist.”
            yes, and yes.

            – and i think the answer to your house-finding, must be through word of mouth. there must be some cool old timber framed house with your names on it, i am sure an in the know obachan will point you in the right direction.

  3. mannyfurious | Dec 4, 2013 at 2:36 pm |

    Consumerism has done the exact opposite it purports to do. It has killed individuality. It has killed the human spirit. It’s the greatest evil this planet has ever seen. It’s worse than war, frankly. At least in War there are wonderful, life-affirming moments. They may be few and far between, but even in war there is true heroism, adventure, bravery and even empathy. Consumerism strips us of such things. There is no way to be a hero in our society. There is no adventure. No true bravery. No empathy. The closest thing we have to a hero is the idea of a “Business Man”– i.e. a man who sells things. A merchant. How fucking boring. And yet this country is full of people who fap day and night to fantasies of being one of these cocksuckers.

    People often compare the modern day U.S. to Rome, but that’s a slap in the face to the Romans. And the Romans were despicable people. But even they had a semblance of ideas such as “integrity” and “honor.” They had values outside of procuring more matter. In our society, you’re a nobody if you don’t own…STUFF. It’s stupid and it’s a waste of life.

    • kowalityjesus | Dec 4, 2013 at 2:41 pm |

      Confucian philosophy rates merchants as the lowest form of occupation.

      • mannyfurious | Dec 4, 2013 at 3:10 pm |

        I generally don’t enjoy Confucian philosophy, but his aim was dead-eyed on that one. The most mediocre people I know are either merchants or they have the philosophical outlook of one. The school system in this country sucks precisely people keep trying to run education as a business. It’s not. And that’s why they fail.

        • Rhoid Rager | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:31 am |

          True. I was talking to my father-in-law about this last night. He’s a (house) painter (here in Japan), and he told me that the rise of sales people and middle-men has sucked integrity and humanity from his dealings with his clients. Artisans and labourers can’t deal directly with the people that require their services, because the prerequisite for our consumerist culture is that people always interrupt the flow of exchange between people who need a service and those that have the ability to directly provide it. It’s become a culture of parasites that are lauded for their ability to ‘connect’ people and ‘suss out’ jobs.

      • Jin The Ninja | Dec 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm |

        theoretically yes, as mercantilism was seen as a disruption of the ‘natural’ social order, with the emperor at the top, but practically and legally, there was never an attempt to codify disdain for the merchant class, nor were the confucian divisions of social hierarchy ever truly reflected in society. confucianism was very concerned with the maintenance of social order-accepting one’s place in society. in fact, legalism a radical offshoot of confucianism embraced mercantilism. the economies of the southern song and ming dynasties were founded on confucian bureaucracy- a complete co-mingling of mercantilism (petty capitalism) and confucian social control. confucianism underwent several radical evolutions – at one point it embraced (in order to further marginalise) aspects of both daoism and mohism which were resolutely anti-mercantile politically. mohism, being communitarian- embracing the agricultural heritage of pre modern china, while daoism firmly opposed to ‘society’ as a concept of social order- focused more on the individual’s personal cultivation, but broadly recognising man’s innate connection to each other. because pre modern china was (as stated) 90% agriculture- confucian bureaucracy was not kindly looked upon and populist revolts were common. this really did nothing to abate the growing influence of non-aristocratic merchants on political/economic or social policy.

        • Rhoid Rager | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:32 am |

          Good insight. Confucian principles have been the great consolidator of power in east asia, in my opinion.

          • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 1:01 am |

            i think confucianism and capitalism have certain parallels. i think the strict social controls of confucian society were probably the early basis of post-war capitalism. japan and s. korea had a long history of the chaebol /family firm. i think now, capitalist nihlism has largely supplanted confucian tradition. any vestiges that remain are simply for worker control.

            have you ever read “deep ecology and world religion?”
            jordan paper makes a very interesting argument regarding the role of confucianism in modern discourse of east asia. i am not sure i agree, but it is a perspective worth considering. he argues that east asian scholars tend to overemphasize the role of confucianism ( as well as daoism- as well as ‘asian-ness’ as a whole) in contemporary east asia. under global capitalism there is no ‘asian-ness’ to be defined in historical terms.

            however, i do think capitalism, like all dominant ideologies, is very good at co-option and subverting regional practices. adapting them in order to subjugate the locals.

          • Rhoid Rager | Dec 5, 2013 at 1:19 am |

            I haven’t read that one. That looks interesting. I’ve become quite interested in Daoism lately. Would you happen to have a link to a pdf of that essay?

            Ideology was given great stress in the curriculum in grad skool. The politics dept. at UOttawa is very posty, with a strong bend towards Foucault. But I guess my inclination towards material-based science (inspired by Kropotkin, I s’pose) made me sceptical of the causal nature of ideology. I’ve always looked at it as a correlational factor in social structures–ideology seems to have been formalized and constructed after material infrastructure had been laid. My anarchist influences have encouraged me to treat the ontology of agency as primary.

            I discovered the work of Timothy Mitchell a few years ago thanks to my supervisor. If you haven’t read his work, I highly recommend one article in particular–everyday metaphors of power, from way back in 1990. His newest book, Carbon Democracy, looks really interesting. In his view the bricks and mortar of empire are indispensable to construction of ideology.

          • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 1:48 am |

            http://bookza.org/book/853654/ce9a3a

            daoism is my own personal area of interest. i strongly disagree with prof paper that daoism is ‘not politically readable from a western perspective’ (i.e. not anarchist). but check out the two chapters on chinese thought and let me know what you think. his other work on indigenous political thought is also quite interesting.

            “ideology seems to have been formalized and constructed after material infrastructure had been laid.”

            i very much agree with you here. i think history agrees with you, as well.

            i enjoyed foucault as an undergrad. but as i moved towards higher education, i found all the post-modern work to be..well… perfectly suited to the conservative tendency in academia. there was an aversion to the tangible, to applied theory. i am also concerned with the ontology of agency. i suppose all anarchists must be in a way.

            i will find the mitchell article- thank you for the recommend. i think i have to read his new book now that ideology v. materialism is running through my mind.

          • Rhoid Rager | Dec 5, 2013 at 2:17 am |

            Wow. What a great web site. I had no idea.

            I can send you the Mitchell article, if you can’t find it/don’t have access to Sage or whatever bullshit academic journal ‘search’ service. Drop me an e-mail.

          • Cortacespedes | Dec 6, 2013 at 1:06 am |

            Thanks!! Between you and RR, I’ve got a nice Winter reading list going on now.

    • Rhoid Rager | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:25 am |

      Your awesome little rant reminded me of Marcuse’s ‘One-Dimensional Man’. Brilliant book far ahead of its time.

    • Inventors could be the heroes in the West, if only we would stop focusing on taking empires instead of cocreating them.

    • no adventure? no true bravery? i’ll remember people believe that way next time i’m riding a freight train.

      • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:34 pm |

        is riding a freight train, a path already forged? it isn’t a unique, creative experience.

        • nothing new under the sun. but its alright. i’m not trying to glorify the self. rather, I have much appreciation for the Other. Whether the Other is God, a friend or Mama Earth. when on a boxcar, am I loving my self or am I filled with appreciation for brotherhood and a life apart from consumerist society?
          the modern experience of the hobo is an example of l’esprit d’aventure, bravery, and comeraderie. how could you simply say otherwise just because its something others have already done.
          I guess there is no bravery in motherhood, too, cause its a path others have already walked?

          • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:54 pm |

            motherhood is a separate and distinct example. both biological and intellectual, creative and learned. i would say it is more brave to become a parent in this world, then it is to ride a freight train during a gap year and pretend you’re a 1920s hobo.

          • whatever, man. don’t really care what u think is brave, nor am I even trying to be machismo. I do what I do for my own personal reasons and am not trying to “be” anybody of any time era. with the caveat, that some traditions deserve to be maintained and despite what you think, they are still very applicable to our modern society.

          • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 1:04 pm |

            the hobo, tramp, itinerant traditions derive directly from disenfranchisement. people who were unable to access traditional means of capital, of property.
            i think the application of the tramp’s anti-consumerist modes of behaviour is very relevant and valid to modern society. however, in what does becoming a contemporary itinerant engage in socio-economic activism other than lifestyle anarchism?

          • well, hobos have traditionally been important for worker’s rights because they are less afraid to tell the boss what’s up. also, hobos can do seasonal work and fill the “production” needs of diverse areas. because my needs are simple I am able to support small-scale agriculture and artisans and the like that might have a tough time becoming productive. hobos can spread the “good news” to people that are sheltered and might not receive information otherwise. hobos lead by example and teach others not to be afraid and kiss the boss’s ass.
            I could go on, but I’m not the kind to feel the need to justify anything to anyone. as for “activism” that’s just a word to me. i’m just living my life, and if that makes me a “lifestyle anarchist” to some people, so be it.

      • mannyfurious | Dec 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm |

        Well, yeah, my rant was speaking in generalities. The “human spirit” will never die completely (until the species itself dies), in my opinion, but, you know, it just gets harder and harder to find.

    • Apathesis | Dec 7, 2013 at 9:14 am |

      I am a victim of consumerism. I am constantly buy stuff or planning to buy stuff to fill the emotional voids in my life.

      • mannyfurious | Dec 7, 2013 at 10:20 am |

        Oh, I am too. I’m not immune to my own criticisms. It’s simply the culture and society we live in. I do try to minimize how much I partake in it, but it’s difficult to completely separate yourself from the culture.

  4. kowalityjesus | Dec 4, 2013 at 2:46 pm |

    That is an interesting dichotomy, fatalism vs individualism. The author seems to imply that too much individualism in recent times has led to a lack of respect for social/environmental health and responsibility.

    Are there numerically too many uber-individualists, or has the tide risen to make each us too individualistic?

    • mannyfurious | Dec 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm |

      I feel like you’re buying too much in the merchant’s definition of “individualistic,” which is not a productive one. The merchant’s definition is that “individuality” (an abstract term, by the way. It doesn’t even really exist,hence why it’s so hard to settle on one definition) is only capable of being expressed by what you buy. And since it’s impossible to sell something specific to each of the 6 billion or so people on the planet, you sell them to groups and you hope each individual learns to identify with a specific group. This comes in the form of sports teams, clothing brands, car brands, toy brands, etc. “Brands” essentially. “Individuality” and “Brands” are, in a consumeristic society, one and the same.

      The definition I choose for “individuality” is the ability to express those things that are particular to me. Maybe I’m a good writer, so I write. Maybe I’m a good lover, so I love. Maybe I’m not a good chess player, but I enjoy it, so I keep playing chess even though I suck. That sort of thing.

      • kowalityjesus | Dec 5, 2013 at 1:01 am |

        mm hmm…That is an interesting insight, although I was actually commenting on this paradigm objectively, with little relation to the issue of consumerism. I had never heard those terms juxtaposed before, it is food for thought.

  5. emperorreagan | Dec 4, 2013 at 4:26 pm |

    Humans are animals.

  6. Lookinfor Buford | Dec 5, 2013 at 10:25 am |

    Why do all the commenters on this thread try to minimize, discredit, deny the existence of, narrowly define and generally flog ‘individuality’? Every single person on this planet thirsts for it consciously or subconsciously their entire lives. True that simple and less creative people use consumerism as a means to do that, and true this is that 50-60% majority of people who fall under many other derogatory headings, but it’s ironic that we are here communicating anonymously on a site where there are many unique and interesting individuals (personalities), yet at times you all sound like a bunch of seagulls.
    Is it because you are all Millennials who grew up in a single location, led relatively sheltered lives, experienced the trappings of technological consumerism which kept you occupied in a world where you spent much of your time communicating anonymously with strangers, listening to limelight puppets, or zombied out on a video game, and therefore never experienced the regular boredom that drives the young out of the house to engage in awfully bold, unique, smart, stupid, crazy, dangerous activities which create a repertoire of experiences that yields true uniqueness, individuality and identity?
    Just curious

    • I flog “Individuality” because no person is truly independent of the universe, truly creates themselves, nor is truly “all of themselves all at once.” In a sense, I don’t believe “the Individual” exists.

      • Lookinfor Buford | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:25 pm |

        That narrow definition.. One does not need be detached from the universe to be an individual, free from mental or physical bondage, and free to rebuke the whims, claims or exertions of other individuals or groups. One only needs to have myriad unique experiences to draw upon in order to clearly think, act, and behave as an individual.

        • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:32 pm |

          if you hold citizenship, religion, or cultural values of any sort, you’re not really ‘free’ in the metaphysical sense of autonomy. the best you could be is ‘open and learning.’

          • Lookinfor Buford | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm |

            I am absolutely free, even if *only* in the metaphysical sense, as I am free to challenge that trinity of values (which all humans hold btw), to any degree I wish, at any time I wish, whether they be my own, or belonging to my peers, or, the masses.

          • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:44 pm |

            yes, you’re ‘free’ to challenge cultural norms and values- but if you are member of a society by way of papers, you defacto participate in that society. if you challenge that society enough, you won’t remain ‘physically’ free. what measure of ‘freedom’ (or liberation, as i’d rather call it) is physical? intellectual?

          • Lookinfor Buford | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:46 pm |

            There are many forms of resistance and rebellion, and I think we can mostly agree that ‘individuality’ in context here is metaphysical. Was Nelson Mandela still an individual while incarcerated. Yes he was.

          • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:50 pm |

            resistance is different than individualism. mandela also perpetuated the system of governance used to incarcerate him. s. africa is no model state post-apartheid.

          • I don’t agree that the freedom to challenge values equals absolute metaphysical freedom.

          • What would create that freedom? A lack of what you provided as examples?

          • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 1:12 pm |

            yes, for people (plural) to forge their own destinies, institutions, and modes of social order based on consent and non-coersion. based on a respect for human life and the environment.

            there is the saying, “we’re not free until we’re all free.”
            i think it’s applicable.

          • As a thought experiment. If a group of people were to enter a long term space exploration station, which the purpose is to leave the earth behind. Would those people be free of the society back on earth?

            Would they be free 200 years later?

          • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 1:29 pm |

            depends on context and circumstance.
            i don’t think drawing from traditional or historical models is “not free.” in fact i see a greater freedom in certain examples of social organization.
            i think liberation depends on how much we are willing to critically view ourselves and these models. not how little we draw from them. in 200 years, they could be extracting planetary cores for profit to sell back to earthlings. who knows?

          • Perhaps they would be calling Richard Branson god. Thank you for playing along, this has given me an insight. We are social creatures. One need only look towards what happens to the brains of babies who go without physical interaction. They may be free, or are they trapped?

          • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 1:46 pm |

            i don’t know about babies, but in regards to feral children,probably both.

          • Feral children are so rare. This begs the questions. Which part of them is free, and which part is trapped? Would they remain free if they were to stick to the wilderness? Would they be trapped as an outsider amongst the animals and their social construct?

        • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:37 pm |

          there are very few ‘unique’ experiences. those that are require money. and even then, it is simply a shared experience amongst those with money and interest.

          • Lookinfor Buford | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:44 pm |

            Completely absurd. Rather than boring you with my many unique experiences, I suggest you read Juan’s article about his bad LSD PCP trip. Then defend your statement

          • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm |

            i read it. and i agree in the sense that the experiences of consciousness are unique to the individual; however the experience of LSD is not. entheogenics have a cultural mythos associated with them, as well as rites and rituals. you interpret the trip according to pre-defined cultural symbols. it is a co-mingling of learned knowledge and individual experience.

          • Lookinfor Buford | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:50 pm |

            Ah yes, and your wrote the book on the finite state machine that is the human mind, I see.

          • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:51 pm |

            no, but i have participated in the human experience. am i not free to challenge your assumptions and opinions?

          • Lookinfor Buford | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:53 pm |

            As an individual, you are. But I have made no assumptions. You have made many.

          • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:55 pm |

            that is in itself an assumption.

          • Lookinfor Buford | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:57 pm |

            That is false.

          • Lookinfor Buford | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm |

            shall I paint the picture of your assumptions? Nevmnd, it’s obvious to me that we are two distinct individuals, and will agree to disagree. Of course, THAT, is an assumption.

          • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:59 pm |

            i am waiting, picasso.

          • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:59 pm |

            is it? what is the epistemological basis for that assumption?

          • It’s interesting you should mention that. Juan’s experience of being flooded with senses, and the paranoia that follows reminded me of at least one of my trips.

          • oneironauticus | Dec 6, 2013 at 9:38 pm |

            I honestly am having a hard time figuring out what you mean by including Juan’s article in your assertion here…do you think that he is the only one who has ever had a bad trip?

            I mean, it was an interesting story, but not really unique in the grand scheme of things…

          • mannyfurious | Dec 5, 2013 at 4:27 pm |

            I disagree, in sense. In same ways you’re right, but at the same time all experiences are “unique.” You and I can watch the same movie, at the same theatre, at the same time, in the same aisle, in seats right next to each other, but the “culmination of knowledge, events and experiences” we each have is going to cause us to experience that movie in a different way from one another and from everyone else who sees that movie.

          • “One can never step in the same river twice.”

        • I disagree. Does “freedom” equal “individuality?” Mentally, the words and concepts we use are mostly made up by others. Physically, gravity holds us to the Earth, which isn’t a bad thing, and we need food and other things provided by the Earth to survive. Also, psychologically and neurologically we are divided into parts, so we are not undivisable or undivided.

          Every individual is a collective and part of a collective, just as every collective is an individual and made up of individuals. Freedom may exist, but it is not absolute.

      • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm |

        i agree with the sentiment. i think ‘the individual’ as an archetype exists in the way we interpret the culmination of knowledge, events, experiences.

      • is it really so simple as Individual OR Collective? I have noticed Paradoxes are true, and one cant really argue this is right that is wrong.

        • You’re right, it isn’t that simple. “The Collective” archetype doesn’t exist (independently) either.

    • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:31 pm |

      “never experienced the regular boredom that drives the young out of the
      house to engage in awfully bold, unique, smart, stupid, crazy, dangerous
      activities which create a repertoire of experiences that yields true
      uniqueness, individuality and identity?”

      name one activity that isn’t related to the exchange of credit notes, comodified in some way, does not actively engage in popular youth culture or draws from the false western mythos re: individuality invented by the boomers?

      tell us, if you agree consumerism is not a valid measure of individuality, then in what other ways can we cultivate our distinct selves? is there anything OTHER than consumerism? the realm of ideas, of myths, of art. in sense we are engaging that. oh, and i can tell you’re old because you slag vidya, which really aren’t the devil’s workings- as your generation tends to represent them.

      • Lookinfor Buford | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:42 pm |

        If GenX is old to you then I am old.

        • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm |

          depends on what dates you are using re: birth. if you’re referring to the generation of the 1960s, well that is my parents generation. so yes, comparatively old.

          • Lookinfor Buford | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm |

            That is not, and never will be Gen X.

          • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 12:48 pm |

            “Demographers, historians and commentators use beginning birth dates from the early 1960s to the early 1980s.”

            which is why i asked.

        • I’ve been old since I was a teenager.

      • Lookinfor Buford | Dec 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm |

        “name one activity that isn’t related to the exchange of credit notes, comodified in some way, does not actively engage in popular youth culture or draws from the false western mythos”
        Here’s your most glaring assumption, that if any activity falls under these three categories as *you* defined them, that they can’t produce unique identities, which of course, all of them can.
        Diving in black lakes for golf balls at 1 am, only to hit them back in the lake.
        Verbally assaulting a Cop who was cracking down on my clan for pasture partying, because my girlfriend fell and hurt herself, and he barely stopped for a breath from his rant. Then watching him squirm as he defended himself, saying “I’m just doing my job”, as he and the two other officers ducked back in their cruisers and left.
        Flooding the alleyways during a hurricane (Alicia) so my friends and I could skim board. Dumping gasoline on the water and lighting it up.. Skim-boarding through the flames.
        I could go on for hours about how distinct I am from you. But you will still believe we are the same. Cest la vie

        • Jin The Ninja | Dec 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm |

          wow, what an absolutely enthralling life you must lead.

          i NEVER asserted we are the SAME. totally false.

          i am distinct from you.

          i asked “if you agree consumerism is not a valid measure of individuality, then in what other ways can we cultivate our distinct selves?”

          my response was art, idea, myth. however i would also add resistance, but separate in meaning from your mandela analogy before.

          i found nothing you listed to ultimately culminate in new, exciting forms of individuality. i could watch Jackass on mtv and see pretty much the same variety of activities.

          but i get it, you need to ‘special’ in your americana, youthful rebellions. at least we ARE distinct from each other.

          • Lookinfor Buford | Dec 5, 2013 at 3:32 pm |

            Jin: “i NEVER asserted we are the SAME. totally false.”

            Earlier Jin: “there are very few ‘unique’ experiences.”

            …certainly implies we are ALL the basically same, not just you and I. And you are largely trying to make the point that *only* our consumer habits define us. Not the case at all. Maybe for you.

          • Lookinfor Buford | Dec 6, 2013 at 10:33 am |

            My answer to your question was “through our unique experiences”..
            But you never answered my two questions that began this conversation..
            Why does the consensus on this thread hate individuality?
            Is it because your lives were dull?
            At least Andrew answered the question before his non-rant. That’s why I like him.

        • oneironauticus | Dec 6, 2013 at 9:43 pm |

          What. A. Fucking. Dork.

          Do you honestly believe other people don’t have similar experiences? You might be “unique” to your peer group, but you really are delusional and sheltered–and now you’ve proven it!

          “Hurr-durr! Once I talked back to a cop! I consider this experience to be an equal example to my other feats of (*cough*red-neck*cough*) bad-assery! Rar!!”

    • oneironauticus | Dec 6, 2013 at 9:29 pm |

      I was pretty sure I was the only “Millennial” here, other than that doll-collector kid…either way, your breakdown of the “sheltered life” only applies to kids I would have considered “rich” (that is, before I understood what “real rich” was…)

      Your understanding of the world is once again revealed to be ignorant and limited.

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