Monday, April 02, 2007

The Siren Call of Consumerism

I am right now reading an excellent book by a woman named Julie Schor. It's called Born to Buy and it is a seering exposure of the evils of consumerism that now run rampant in American society. Parents would benefit greatly from it, as would anyone who sometimes feels a bit guilty or wasteful in regards to spending too much money on unnecessary goods. I certainly fall in that category, and I'm certainly benefiting from this book. That's not to say that I agree with every point Schor makes, or even with Schor's basic worldview. I don't think I do. But there are often pearls to be found in secular literature.

Schor's basic point is this: companies, pursuing profits at any cost, are targeting children and creating in them a desire for "cool" products that they do not need. Schor chronicles numerous examples of this trend and supplements her points with statistics and interviews. The resulting read is enlightening and fascinating. It is also condemning. I was raised in a home that actively fought the consumerist mentality, and for that I am now very glad. Yet even with strong parental leadership, I still developed a love for Nike products. This love was due to Nike's success in positioning itself as the purveyor of cool. Nike thus became a part of my identity. I scoffed at cheaper brands and clothed myself in Nike product after product. I didn't realize it then, but I was buying wholesale the myth of consumerism, that I was a cooler, better, happier person because of the goods I purchased.

If you live and breathe, then I think you know what I'm talking about. I've observed people close to me "needing" to buy certain brands that sell single items of clothing at 150 dollars. These people, like me with my expensive Nike fixation, were allowing worldly culture to dictate their beliefs and principles. They were casting an identity for themselves that was based on brands and goods, not on belief in God. For those of us who subscribe, wittingly or unwittingly, to this mindset, shopping becomes a recreation, the mall becomes a Mecca, and goods become our release. We buy what we do not need to satisfy desires that we should not have. Instead of building relationships, enjoying nature, or serving the needy, we build our wardrobe, enjoy our goods, and serve ourselves. As I look at such behavior patterns, I'm honestly ashamed of myself. I have been duped by the world, I now realize. I truly have thought that J. Crew and Brooks Brothers makes me who I am. I have looked down on those who reject such thinking. In the process, I've played the fool, albeit the fool who thinks he's wise.


Blogger Dad said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Dad said...

Good comments. In case you are interested I posted this, deleted it and re-worked a section.

Buy from the little person, who doesn't advertise (much), push his products or really want your money unless you really want/need my products and can afford them - is that an advertisement?

I attended a meeting on selling one's product. Very non-Biblical: "Here are lines to over comes people's resistance. . . "

Yet from the perspective of the seller, I think advertising does have a place, as does presenting one's product (maybe in person), but . . . to also present that the seller is trusting in God for supplying his needs and not in his own ability to push his product. That is a challenge to live and to communicate.

Al (Not Owen's dad or that other "Al". - I'd supply my website but 3 poor college/etc students who probably don't have any money are not my marketing targets!! :) )

10:03 AM  
Blogger Tony Kummer said...

Some advertisers are so good at this it almost seems like they've read some books on biblical counseling.

Just talk to a five year old about what they want for their birthday.

4:36 PM  
Blogger sushil yadav said...


You have written about Consumerism in your post.In this context I want to post a part from my article which examines the impact of speed, overstimulation, consumerism and industrialization on our minds and environment. Please read.

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.

Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.

A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.

Fast visuals/ words make slow emotions extinct.

Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys emotional circuits.

A fast (large) society cannot feel pain / remorse / empathy.

A fast (large) society will always be cruel to Animals/ Trees/ Air/ Water/ Land and to Itself.

To read the complete article please follow either of these links :




7:40 PM  
Blogger Ryan Hill said...

I really appreciate this post. It was very insightful about our culture and definitely convicted me of areas in my life where I am guilty of thinking have the right brand of something is cool. Thanks for your good words.

10:22 PM  

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