newprotest.org: THE VANITY OF WEALTH

THE VANITY OF WEALTH

February 21, 2007
by: jovial_cynic
It has recently occured to me that non-grocery retail shopping centers, malls in particular, which cover acres of ground, provide nothing anyone actually needs.

In fact, I think shopping centers are actually ongoing social events, and the goods sold by retail stores are actually admission tickets; by buying retail goods, a person is really buying a ticket into a social club -- the designer clothes, the latest MP3 player... these are tickets, and more you spend, the higher on the VIP list you sit. It's all about status, and like so many peacocks, mall shoppers strut from store to store adorned with their clearly-marked bags of recent purchases.

I'm not opposed to unnecessary things. Most enjoyable things in life are unnecessary; they make life entertaining, and our predisposition towards particular meaningless activities is what makes us unique. I enjoy tinkering on my old car. I like taking my daughter to gymnastics class. I enjoy welding little metal figurines. And while none of that is necessary, none of it is associated with a desire for an gain in social status either, nor is it connected to mindless consumerism... and I think that's where the problem lies.

The consumers, driven by their needs to fit into a particular social class, feel like they are climbing the social ladder with their purchases. They shun those below their status and envy those above them, but in reality, the consumers aren't climbing anything. There is no ladder. It's the corporatations that are coming out ahead. The notion of fashion and status symbols and image are all constructed reality - a marketing ploy to get people to buy useless crap. None of it is real, and all the while, corporate executives are getting rich off the delusions of the consumers.

I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.

But... I figure it's probably best to let the mindless consumers do their thing. It's not my job to convince people that they're living in a false reality, and if people are comfortable shopping and contributing nothing to society, that's their choice. As for me, I think I'm going to stop buying new clothes.

No, really.

Everybody draws their lines where it seems appropriate to do so, and for me, I think that new clothes symbolize a willingness to live under the oppressive rule of the corporations. With the exception of the necessities (underwear, socks, t-shirts), it makes no sense to rail against consumerism and vanity as evidenced in the retail market, and at the same time buy the same new clothes that everyone else is buying. Why not shop at the Goodwill, or other used clothing stores? Why not support second economy -- the one where the consumers themselves are the sellers, and where the goods aren't coming from the corporations, and where style and design aren't dictated by a handful of minds? And as for professionalism, can I purchase a used business suit and still sit in on a formal meeting with my coworkers? Why not?

So that's my line. I've drawn it.
np category: philosophy
tags:

COMMENTS for THE VANITY OF WEALTH


Kristen said:
I was thinking about this the other day...I was going for a run wearing an Old Navy sweatshirt, which I got for free from...well, long story, but it was free, not a gift and not stolen. LOL

It was free, but I was still publicizing a corporation on my shirt...not sure if I'm okay with that. Then again, it's bright orange (so I don't get hit by cars), super warm and FREE. I dunno.

BTW, some may argue with you that a gymnastics class and welding is associated with social status (not that you are necessarily trying to climb some imaginary ladder, Josh). The fact that you can pay for a class and have time to tinker and create does say something about social status.

February 22, 2007


jovial_cynic said:
Sure -- but my issue is more about the social status mixed with belligerent consumerism, and about attachment to the false hierarchy (social status) and the ignorance of the true hierarchy (corporate control of the masses).

I'm less concerned about the existence of social status, and the freedoms some have while other's do not, so the fact that I send my daughter to a gymnastics class and have the free time to weld doesn't clash with my ideals. Not that social hierarchy isn't an issue... it's just not the one I'm challenging at the moment. One battle at a time.

Anyhow, I wouldn't have a problem with wearing an Old Navy sweater. The "statement" I'm making isn't about corporations themselves - it's about the willingness to live under the oppressive rule of the corporations. Ie., by wearing a brand-name shirt that I picked up second hand (or free), I'm actually thumbing my nose at the corporation by telling them that I can wear whatever I want, but I don't have to be their consumer. I consume on my terms, not theirs.

And in the end, it's all kind of meaningless anyway, and it doesn't matter... but it makes sense to me.

February 22, 2007


sushil_yadav said:
In response to your views on "consumerism"
I want to post a part from my article which deals with similar issues.

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.

[comment trimmed down by the management]

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

PlanetSave

EarthNewsWire

sushil_yadav

February 23, 2007


jovial_cynic said:
Sushil_yadav - I appreciate your essay, and I see the connection to my post. However, I've seen you post this entire text on another blog, and since you're providing links, there's no need to post so much at once. I've cut out most of your comment, but I left the links for you.

I recommend you respond directly to posts instead of using them to advertise your own content. You have some good thoughts, but posting pre-written essays in comments isn't the best way to share your ideas.

February 23, 2007


sushil_yadav said:
jovial cynic,

Thanks for reading the article. You are right I have posted on other blogs and forums. There are two reasons for this. My article is about life, culture, environment, globalization, sustainability, mental health, activism and many other issues.The content of the article is relevant to a large number of threads in Discussion Forums and Blogs. When people post comments they normally spend a few minutes on their post - It has taken me almost 20 years to write this article. Whenever I post I try to make sure that my comment is relevant to the thread.

The second reason is the magnitude of environmental and global crisis.The rate of environmental destruction and violence/war is so high that the prospect of Apocalypse within a few years seems to be very true. The human race urgently needs to change its way of living. I am trying to spread this simple message through my postings.

sushil_yadav

February 23, 2007


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