Consumerism- a curse, a blessing, or an inevitability

consumerismIn a recent post called Black Day…Black Friday…GREED I compared our materialistic avarice and greed to the plight of Indonesian miners mining sulphur. During the post I highlighted the depth to which we have sunk through the emergence of such days as black Friday, and I asked whether or not such comparative worlds were worlds we wanted to see.

I take nothing back from that post, but it left me with a problem. I had typed the post using a keyboard which was linked to to a computer. I was using a broadband service, which I had paid for, to send out my post, and I was sitting in a warm, safe, comfortably fitted out house with many personal possessions around me.

I had bought such things, and, like so many other like me, I had accumulated such things for my pleasure, my marital security, and so that my Wife and I might use such blessings that we now both endure.

Do we have a mansion, a fleet of cars, and a massive investment portfolio. No, such things will never be part of our marriage, but such are out life skills and cultural upbringing, it has to be said that we would find it difficult to fully enjoy our marriage without certain items being at our side. We know that others can only dream of our good fortune, we know that for many individuals, our safe and secure existence is but a dream, but how should we feel when we look at the position we are in?

One thing Miki (my wife) and I cannot ignore is that we have both been brought up, and are in, a consumer society. Compared to many of our peers, and to others living around us we are not rich; financially anyway, but, like so many others around us we have been indoctrinated into the belief that consumerism is  a “good thing”. A social and economic order that encourages the purchase of goods and services in ever-greater amounts, is  a good thing, so society tells us. It gives you warmth. security, food, and water; and through the accumulation ans usage of consumer products, natural or unnatural, it allows us to pursue our dreams.

It is a powerful argument, and, sitting at my computer, it raises  a quizzical eye at the words on the screen before me, but it does give rise to the title of this post. Is our unquenching thirst for things and objects, a curse, a blessing, or an inevitable consequence of the lifestyle so many of us chose to leave. My own take on this is relatively simple, as I will leave it to others to contribute a more exhaustive examination, but I would say it is a complex and irreversible of all three. Think of af a jam sandwich, think of it’s construction, and its consumption, and then think of what it would be like if one or more components were removed. Take away a slice, and it can become messy, take away the jam and it becomes dull (if you like jam that is), and god help you if both slices are removed. so now the three elements, the curse, the blessing, and inevitability

Few would question the view that consumerism is, or can be,  a curse. I creates all sorts of problems, both physically and mentally, and through greed and the repression or even cauterization of our more instinctive and a natural empathy with the world around us, a great deal of damage has been done.

So can it be a blessing? Of course it can as how many of us could maintain the lifestyle of our choice without such values. We can make our own clothes, we can adapt to living with and alongside nature, and we can go out hunting so as to secure a good source of breeding territory, a water or food. We can do all such things, but do we really want to?

Finally is it an inevitability? Nature shows us that if a living thing, of any size, variety, or complexity, can gain an advantage in life, it will do so, so how can we, as a living species be expected to ignore such a code. It is true that we carry such a notion far beyond the bounds of common decency and the capabilities of other life forms around us. It is certainly true that we agonise over our behaviour (Just like I am doing now), and trip ourselves up constantly in our drive to improve, but for many of us consumerism is an integral part of our make up (pardon the pun), and it is a factor which, if we are honest we cannot ignore.

So there we have it, it’s here, it’s staying put, and it will probably outlive most of us, so maybe all we can do is to go for a compromise. So what do you think of this conundrum. Any views, and opinions, and “cures”.

Maybe Marie Lloyd had the right after all with her song “A little bit of what you fancy does you good”, her daughter voice I believe, so I will close this post with her song, and no, I don’t know how many copies were sold!

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Categories: Growing pains, Just a thought

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1 reply


  1. You are not your khakis. Self-correcting consumerism in the digital age. | Blank Paper Project

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