Tag Archives | Consumerism

LIKE everything

Hitchhiker's_gesture

From Wired:

There’s this great Andy Warhol quote you’ve probably seen before: “I think everybody should like everybody.” You can buy posters and plates with pictures of Warhol, looking like the cover of a Belle & Sebastian album, with that phrase plastered across his face in Helvetica. But the full quote, taken from a 1963 interview in Art News, is a great description of how we interact on social media today.

Warhol: Someone said that Brecht wanted everybody to think alike. I want everybody to think alike. But Brecht wanted to do it through Communism, in a way. Russia is doing it under government. It’s happening here all by itself without being under a strict government; so if it’s working without trying, why can’t it work without being Communist? Everybody looks alike and acts alike, and we’re getting more and more that way.
I think everybody should be a machine.

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Let’s End Unboxing Videos

One of the oddest manifestations of the Cult of Conspicuous Consumption are “unboxing” videos. Just search “unboxing” and you’ll find tons of YouTubers documenting every stage of unpacking a newly purchased product (even incredibly banal ones) as if it were a rare and delicate archaeological artifact, and often with the same breathless exuberance such a discovery might elicit. I don’t hate them, though. I’ve watched a few, and I think that they appeal to the curious, always foraging monkey brain that’s still lurking under all of that fancy-pants upjiggered human temporal cortex.

In any case, I think that this guy nailed the worst attributes of unboxing videos. Funny stuff.

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Changing Your Personal Consumption Isn’t Confronting The Problem

happy_familyFrom Orion Magazine, a classic essay from Derrick Jensen on the limits of living simply:

Why now do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet.

We so often hear that the world is running out of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. But more than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry.

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On The Consumerist Order Of The New City

cityNew Left Project describes the reshaping of the meaning and rules of our cities:

The commercialisation of the urban landscape has resulted in the privatisation of public space. As manufacturing industries have diminished and the consumer and service economy has grown, the places we inhabit have radically changed. As city centres have become tributes to consumption, private interests have permeated these spaces. Although these places hold the semblance of being “public”, they are owned by corporate interests and are therefore under private control and not accountable to the public.

The quasi-public space of the commercial city centre is unwelcoming for a growing number of citizens. Non-consumers, such as the homeless, the unemployed, the poor, the young and the old are branded as ‘others’ to the hegemonic consumer order. The right to the city is increasingly a privilege for those with the material and cultural capital to consume. The quest for clean and sanitized space has meant that ‘out of place’ individuals who fail to match up to a highly circumscribed model of ‘consumer citizenship’ are hidden from view.

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Chinese Man Commits Suicide At Mall After Girlfriend Refuses To Stop Shopping

deadDeath by overwhelming and inescapable consumerism? Via Gawker:

A man who was fed up with his girlfriend’s incessant Christmas shopping responded to her request for one more look around a mall shoe store by leaping seven floors to his death.

The 38-year-old, identified as Tao Hsiao, had been shopping with his girlfriend at the Golden Eagle International Shopping Center in Xuzhou, China, when she asked to check out one last shoe store.

Having been inside the mall for five hours, Tao had reached his limit, and reportedly insisted that they leave immediately. “He told her she already had enough shoes, more shoes that she could wear in a lifetime and it was pointless buying any more,” an eyewitness was quoted as saying.

Surveillance footage shows Tao angrily hurling the shopping bags and jumping over the railing onto the cosmetics section below. A spokesman for the shopping center says that the man died instantly upon impact.

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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.

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Black Friday Isn’t Even the Best Day to Get a “Deal”

dawn_of_the_dead_1978_404_303_photos121This won’t be news to most disinfonauts, but here are some details you can share with your less informed friends and family.  Tiffany Hsu writes at the Los Angeles Times:

As the hardiest of shoppers prepare for the annual Black Friday consumption frenzy, many are convinced it’s their one shot at a great deal.

But “that’s not even close to the truth,” said Matthew Ong, senior retail analyst at online personal finance company NerdWallet Inc. Bargain hunters can — and, in some cases, should — avoid the Black Friday weekend crush, several experts said. Many characterize the shopping bonanza as an expertly marketed ploy to capitalize on shoppers’ fear of missing out. By dangling a small batch of irresistible savings, stores land hordes of hopeful shoppers all scheming to score the retail version of Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. Yet only a tiny percentage of customers end up with the most desirable deals.
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