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The Forum > Article Comments > A nectarine is not just a nectarine > Comments

A nectarine is not just a nectarine : Comments

By Malcolm King, published 29/4/2008

The ultimate consumer is consumerism itself, and the things it consumes are us.

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I agree with what you have to say, but I don't know how to get out of what is happening or how to change it, my wife and children don't want what is being forced down their throats, but even our basic home mortgage ties me to a job in the city with a 3 hour round trip, on that journey I am bombarded daily with billboards and adds to look at out of the train window instead of scenery, my children are constantly bombarded by gadgets and advertising aimed at kids, itís all around them, While my wife and I try not to make the kids feel weird by not participating like everyone else.
Example: we have a lot of old stuff that works well, one is a TV from the 80ís, the first thing everyone says when entering our home is "Whatís that, with a laugh" as though the perfectly functioning TV should be thrown out because itís not a plasma TV. When I drive up in my 1987 Camry, most of my friends laugh and say "Are you still driving that piece of crap" yet when I talk to them individually they all seem bothered by what we are creating and were we are all going.
Everyone seems as though they are stunned into inaction, we have lost the will to steer our world in a positive direction, the more individual we become the more our community seems to break down and the less likely we are to stand together to put some perspective on what we should be measure our success on, sustainability, compassion, creativity, equality, fun, family and friends to name a few, I spend most of my time staring out that train window wondering if Iím the only person questioning societies goals and wondering if I could find somewhere less selfish to live with my family.
Posted by Warren, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 2:25:48 PM
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I agree with you too Malcolm but on the plus side it is the consumer who can also empower themselves by choosing not to consume (as much) by becoming a discerning or 'ethical' consumer.

Warren you make some poignant statements.

We consumers have more power than we give ourselves credit for but our real problem is apathy or lethargy probably caused by all the hours we work trying to amass money to buy all those things we think we 'need'. Meanwhile the companies and product producers are forever telling us how important we (the customer/client) are but with litte real serivce to back up those empty claims. We have to find some humour in that if nothing else. :) Bit like taxation, more and more money with less and less substance to show for it.

We can choose not to buy into consumerism (pun intentional) even though it can be difficult because rampant consumerism is self perpetuating and it is increasingly more difficult for those who don't care about possessions or how much money the Jones's have.

There is a great move to downshift by many of various ages (not just baby boomers) although the irony is that sometimes (depending on where you want to live) it takes some money to be able to downshift to a more simple lifestyle..but it can be done.

It can be disheartening to be observers of rampant consumerism as per Malcolm's article. There is great freedom and contentment in recognising it for what it is...window dressing.
Posted by pelican, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 7:35:49 PM
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I had to laught at your coment Malcolm about terms like clients and customers rather than what we really are, patients.

It gets worse - parents are no longer 'parents' or mothers and fathers - but "stakeholders in education". Give me a bucket.

Part of this consumer push is the tendency to use meaningless words to provide the image of service or caring to camouflage the fact that usually there is very little of either. This is not the fault of staff who are usually endeavouring to achieve their day's work with a skeleton staff so the company can make a profit for the least outlay possible.

Competition doesn't help because they are all doing it, some industries like banking and telecommunications are worse than others.

Good reading is Naomi Klein's 'No Logo' for some insight into branding and corporate monopolies. (But don't get too depressed :))
Posted by pelican, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 7:44:24 PM
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What bugs me is what I like to call 'compulsory consumerism'. I too have trusty old appliances that still work and can be repaired. I love them - but it seems impossible to buy anything that will last anymore. We had an excellent combined printer/scanner/fax machine - but after 5 years the company 'no longer supported it' and we could not even get it serviced by anyone (we tried very hard), although it served our needs perfectly and we wanted to keep it. Our only 'power' as consumers has been to avoid buying that brand again, even though they make good stuff, and other brands do as they do. We have had answering machines that no one will/can repair, and their replacements only last as long as the warranty. Fluorescent light bulbs intended to cut energy consumption fail as fast as incandescent ones - here comes the energy cost of making the bulb again. Pretty much everything seems made to last as short a time as possible, and I hate it, especially as we are facing shortages of materials and resources. If my parents had a light bulb that lasted at least 25 years (it was in a house they bought, and still there when they sold it), why the helll can't I?

And I totally agree about brand wearers being living billboards: I've always told my daughter that I won't dress her as an advertising hoarding unless she is paid.
Posted by Candide, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 11:49:52 PM
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EXISTENTIALISM... "live for now.. the moment... 4get the future"

Warren has highlighted this, and Candide seconded it... all this 'consumerism' is nothing less than the outworking of the philosophy mentioned in my title.

It comes from an abandonment of a sense of connection with the eternal, where, after 'God is dead' (and it is 'we' who killed him) ala F.Neitzche.. what, after that...is left? Well simply put.. its 'now'...

We are here for a brief moment, so lets bring out the booze, rock around the clock, get high and party on, for... tomorrow we die.

While rampant consumerism doesn't headline this view of life, or mention it much.. (though 'Just do it' gets close) it still underlies the consumerism that Candide speaks of, and Warren justifiably bemoans.

To speak thus is not new, St. Paul said it long ago.

If the dead are not raised,
"Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.

He was not the originator either..he was quoting the prophet Isaiah

13 But see, there is joy and revelry,
slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep,
eating of meat and drinking of wine!
"Let us eat and drink," you say,
"for tomorrow we die!"

This was spoken to a people who were about to 'get it..and get it reallll good'... i.e. punishment. They were warned.. but did they care? Nope.. eat..drink..etc. The abandonment of morality, the embracing of the 'now', the rampant consumerism "joy and revelry, slaughtering of cattle and sheep" will be our undoing as well.

Destruction of our environment, moral relativism, me_me_me ism...nothing is new under the sun.... when will we learn?
Posted by BOAZ_David, Wednesday, 30 April 2008 5:38:00 AM
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