..because there must be more to life than buying stuff.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Understanding Christmas Consumerism

Today's entry should serve as a bit of a confession from this die-hard anticonsumerist. Christmas had me spouting off my usual rants as I shopped at Target for gifts (for my niece and nephews - and only educational gifts).

Somehow I found myself running toward the back of the store. I wasn't sure where my legs were taking me but they ended up in front of an XBOX 360 kiosk. There was some WW2 game playing itself out on a screen. Suddenly I felt the old Christmas magic. I don't even *play* video games. I have a PS2 that my wife and I use for watching DVDs because we're too cheap to buy a real DVD player with a remote. And I own exactly two games for it. Yet I was enraptured with this new technology.

No, folks. I did not buy one. I'm not even sure they were available that day. But I must confess that if one had magically arrived under the tree on Christmas morning, I would have stopped my rants about consumerism for long enough to play some games. Even now when I walk by the display, I hold my nose up in snooty indifference. Yet, I am drooling on the inside.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You already know all this I am sure, but I thought I would chime in with some thoughts.

I think you can be forgiven for your confession. The object of anti-consumerism should not an exercise in austerity or a reflex deprivation, which in the wealthy "north" is highly impractical if not absurd. Rather, the main impetus behind anti-consumerist rants should be to awaken the richer side of the world (albeit a gravely narrow % of people) to the damage being done via the pursuit of consumerism as its own end, and how incredible loads of shit that fill the stores are somehow psychologically manipulated into "needs" that we are compelled to purchase.

Of course the process whereby shit is metamorphosed into needs includes the illusion of status goods. The unspoken law is that one person is superior to another because of the car that they drive, the house that they own, the watch that they wear, or the power that they yield over others due to their financial position. In reality, often superiority is the last thing that is enjoyed by the people that can afford “luxury” items—this is certainly so if the space between their ears actually buys the illusion… because buying the illusion directly indicates that they have a profound poverty of mind and of spirit. There are significant psychological addictions of security, sensations and/or power being played out in their heads that almost certainly interrupts self awareness. This unfortunate psychological dynamic of addictions and illusions means that "owners" (of this particular psychopathology) are trapped in the never ending cycle of consumerism, thanks to the corporatist, economic rationalist system which pushs it all like drugs. In turn the 'cogs in the corporatist mill' all get a fix of their drug of choice, (profit,) for the purpose of consumerism, status chasing, addiction quenching and so on in a never ending, nauseous cycle of stupidity.

Back to forgiving yourself, sometimes consumption is warranted. Asides from the obvious real needs in life, of which there are few, there are a few examples of where I personally think it is OK to consume. For example, to get a car to get yourself around if you have no viable alternative (perhaps the public transport system in your area is abhorrent). But buying a second hand car is significantly better than buying new because the massive environmental damage of production has already been done by the new car buyer, and you are only in a very limited sense fuelling the market demand for new cars. Sure you are locked into an antique technology that elite powers keep us in, that is certainly environmentally damaging… and that is the reason that if you can do without, then you should. But all modes of public transport inflict the same environmental toll to varying degrees (That is not an attempt at a justification of private car ownership which of course play a dominant role in worldwide toxic emissions: cars, trucks, buses, and other motor vehicles are a major source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides, the precursors to both tropospheric ozone and acid rain; carbon monoxide (CO); massively carcinogenic-toxic air pollutants such as diesel particulate; and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).). [etc.]

Sometimes consumerism can be ‘relatively better’ in other ways: for a (weird) example, you can buy a fake watch, and actually have a positive effect by reducing the value of status "enjoyed" by consumers of the real thing, as the product becomes less synonymous with the illusory concept of status by becoming significantly more available. Thereby it lowers the value of those goods to consumers who are caught in the status mentality of the watch, if they are aware of the prevalence of the fakes. It damages the market for needless and status ridden goods. At the same time you can enjoy wearing whatever you consider to be an aesthetically pleasing time piece. Hardship is not the end goal.

So it sounds as if you had your self a merry little principled Christmas, whether you were uncomfortable about it or not.

5:39 AM, January 06, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...


5:31 PM, June 28, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

nd i love ur blog btw :) enjoy the link

5:33 PM, June 28, 2009

Blogger C said...

Hello there,

I just stumbled upon your blog and am really enjoying what you have to say. Keep up the important work! I'd also like to share a project that I'm working on:


Take care!

10:39 PM, September 09, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hahaha! I don't really see any issue in the fact that video games are in fact quite fun and played judiciously can be a fun activity for the whole family to share. We've published a parent's guide that some may find helpful in this year's holiday season:


Thanks for your confession, I think a lot of us of an anti-consumerist bent feel the same way (a bit conflicted). But there is a happy medium or balance that can be found between not completely immersing yourself in rampant, out-of-control consumerism and enjoying the fruits of our extremely prosperous society.

10:22 AM, December 12, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry I posted an incorrect link in my last comment, the video game guide for parents can be found here...

Video Games: Parent Guide

10:24 AM, December 12, 2009

Anonymous Mundafar said...

Hey man good stuff go check out my blog on my bands website



If you want to blog about someone who is actually doing positive work on this subject feel free to blog about me....lol...

1:43 AM, December 31, 2009

Anonymous lester said...

If you want to fight consumerism, at Christmas or all the time, check out www.less.org.au they have 'Less' stickers to slap on comsumerist avrice....

9:43 PM, July 27, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

u shouldn't buy them anything at christmas, just spend time with them.

8:05 AM, January 10, 2011


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