Saturday, November 25, 2006

all consuming

I am not sure exactly what it is about consumerism that makes me want to weep, but watching all the people line up outside stores in the dark to be the first one inside, to get the best deals, to spend, spend, spend, makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry. Maybe its because it's a reality incomprehensible to the majority of the world who would give a limb to have the same small fortune that folks are willing to squander on the latest thing, or out of a sense of obligation to others, or to simply feel full.

There is something so incredibly sad about it. Or maybe it's just me.

Does anyone have any thoughts about the upside of consumerism? Because I can't seem to find it and am wondering what it must be.

21 comments:

Momish said...

Oh my God, I was just having this exact talk with my stepdaughter today when I saw the paper, depicting people lined up waiting for stores to open. My thoughts were like yours, "how sad". I just know I could never do something like that, and not because I am lazy and like to sleep in. My daughter will never need a toy or product that badly. I will see to that. And, I love to shop, so that is saying a lot.

I do believe your heart is too big for this world. If only you pass some of it on to the rest of us and balance things out! In fact, I think you have. I know mine has grown just reading about yours!

Mrs. Chicky said...

You know, I can't think of any upside to the consumerism that we're witnessing these days. Last week in New England a man was shot while waiting in line for a new video game player. What is wrong with this picture?!

I'm trying to convince my family that we don't need gifts to make this holiday special. I'd like them to spend their time and money on the kids in our family, the ones who still get a kick out of receiving Christmas presents, instead of stressing over that last minute gift certificate for me. So far no one is going along with my plan.

you da mom! said...

well, i guess the upside is keeping people employed, keeping the economy bustling, etc, etc, but i also see the downside. The endless plight to get the hottest and latest...forgetting what is really important in life, etc, etc. i love to shop, but i also know when to stop. i know not to freeze my ass off overnight to get a $100 laptop that will be that price in 3 months anyway.

Penny said...

Not really an upside.. but, I guess there is always the make-work that consumerism offers.. more product, more producing, more jobs.. but, then again, if we all didn't spend so much, maybe we wouldn't have to work so hard...

Seems like a vicious circle, but a necessary one. The part that gets me is that the holidays are taken over by gift-cards and wasted trees dyed red and green.. instead of retaining the messages of love, hope and joy. We don't go big on gifts. (My immediate family always had a rule - 20$ a person, which we still keep to.) Oee doesn't believe in Santa. But, we spend a lot of time making homemade gifts, cards and visiting family and friends, singing songs and baking.. still.. there is consumerism in that, too.

Anonymous said...

You know you don't have to get me started on this one... This world is so cracked that I don't know if there is a glue to fix it. What pisses me off most though are those times when despite my better self I get caught up in the consumerism as well. I hate the way we are all bred into this culture of desire.

KC said...

Like you da mom and penny said, the upside to me is having a stronger economy, decreased unemployment, less people becoming homeless...however flawed, this country is built on consumerism. We either "buy" into it or suffer the consequences.

It's not substance or goodness we value, it's spending. And acquiring. And status via material possesions. It is sad, jen. Damn sad.

Anonymous said...

I would have to agree with all the commenters about the stronger economy and jobs ~ but totally wish there was another way. Truly. I don't like it, either. Basically, there will be no shopping here until January. The whole display makes me sick. When people start killing each other over video games, it's time to do some serious soul-searching.


Peace,

~Chani

meno said...

It is not just you. To me, it feels like selling your soul to the devil. (I don't believe in the devil, but you get the idea.) I walk into a store these days (filled with plastic Santas and lights and wrapping paper and toys for sale) and all i can think is "landfill."

metro mama said...

Sorry, can't help with the upside. It is sad.

Anonymous said...

yup. the thing about christmas is it is about a homeless family with no money. so how did it all end up like this? i go with the pagan saternalia thing - eat nice food and drink wine with friends and family and sit by a warm fire till it soaks into your bones.

Anonymous said...

I don't know the upside (perhaps as others have suggested "money makes the world go round"?) but I hate the way consumerism sucks you in and you find yourself buying things you don't need just because you can...

We are recent homeowners and I'm actually glad that our disposable income has been sucked away by the bank (to pay off the mortgage) because now I simply can't afford to waste money on meaningless things (for myself or my kids). It makes me feel good to know that our hard earned money is going into our home and not frittered away on things that do not give lasting pleasure or happiness.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes. The day after Thanksgiving, aka Black Friday. If I ever join one of those lines, you have permission to shoot me down where I stand. Or slap me silly.

I don't get Black Friday either, really, but then I'm not dying to buy $600 computer game thingies or the latest-and-greatest stuffed toy that will be discarded within two weeks of getting it. No way, now how are we going to be owning those things. This is probably why MF doesn't get to watch TV yet and all the marketing-to-kids ads. Shudder.

On the other hand, I do have mixed feelings about consumerism in general. We do live in the West; the standards are different, and I don't think it's entirely realistic to expect kids to live like families in the third world. On the other hand, I refuse to go overboard and buy the latest and greatest. And I buy as much second-hand as I can. I know where pretty much every charity shop in town is

acumamakiki said...

one of my patient's said she got up at 2:30 in the morning to go to best buy because of some sale that she was too late to get. too late at 3am in the morning? sheesh!
it does make me sad though, because a lot of the people standing in the dark, camping to get the deals, aren't paying with cash and just extending themselves even further for one day.
although i should talk. the crap i've got stored in the basement that i've been buying since the summer to offset the cost in december is criminal, even if i have been spending cash. sigh.

Anonymous said...

Jen, commenters, all... I just got up and made my first pot of decaf. The news is on. It is all cloaked advertising for the products people should buy for their kids. They are even giving prices. This is the morning local newscast. Unbelievable!

Honestly, I believe the only way to put a stop to this is to... stop it.


Peace,

~Chani

Ruth Dynamite said...

Ugh, I know. (Having just returned from Long Island, home of all things shiny, new, and pretentiously in your face.) Suffice it to say you won't find me or anyone I know camping outside Best Buy to snag a new Playstation.

crazymumma said...

My god, this mood has been sweeping over me for months....Our family is so ridiculously lucky now and we truly NEED for nothing. I have convinced the greater part of D's family to give to a charity in lieu of gifts for us, and we will do the same for them.
The frantic need to get get get is making me crazy. I have been telling my girls that I love giving them things but that I want to hear about what they can give. Slowly it is seeping in. I hope.
Oh, sorry, cannot give you an upside to consumerism today...

Anonymous said...

I clicked through to the comments hoping to find some upsides to consumerism. no joy in muddville. nor do I have anything new to offer. I mean - at a macro level - we do enjoy the highest standard of living on this earth. I too complain about all of the things already mentioned, but I own my own home, I am well fed, my children are either in college or working, we are all well (knock on wood) and if not, there are doctors everywhere. I am not well off financially and yet I am considered a fairly typical american. Yes, there are homeless people here, yes there are poor people here that don't have what I do - but our poor people are better off then the average citizen of some third-world countries. I abhore that this teaches our kids to value things instead of people. So it is up to us to make sure that our children learn the value of human beings as apposed to things and that a rich life does not require riches. I am thankful that I have that choice and am in the position to provide a safe and (hopefully) happy home for my family.

Therapy Doc said...

There's gashmius, right, (things) and ruchnius (spiritual stuff).

It's nice to have a good blend, me thinks. Nobody said things are bad. It's the context, right, the value, the overemphasis.

You're totally on track here.

Deezee said...

I would say it all comes down as a visual way to teach us about balance. It's okay to find pleasure in some things as long as we remember they are things, and as long as we can find the proper balance in our lives.

Observing today's obsessive consumerism is a frightening example of society out of balance, in my book.

Kira said...

it's not just you, it bothers me to. i don't get it.

carrie said...

I know that I'm a little late with this, but if there is an upside to consumerism (at least in my upbringing and the way I am raising my family) it is that when you get new things (or before you get new things, like before a birthday or holiday) you need to give some away too. I've always tried to instill with all of our kids that they are lucky to get the nice new things they have, and that it feels really good to give things away. Now, it is completely normal for them to go into their rooms about every 2 months and fill bags with toys they aren't using anymore. Sometimes I don't even need to ask and that feels really good.

So, this is the upside the way I see it. As long as people keep giving and sharing their good fortune, than I think it's okay. I will not, however, get up at 4am to shop, ever (although I DID take my kids to the outlet mall the day after) that is insane.

Carrie