Rx For Casualties of Consumerism

"The grand edifice of brand-name consumerism rests on the narcissistic fantasy that everyone else cares about what we buy." So writes John Tierney in this morning's Times. If this sounds familiar, we have some perspective on your relationship with stuff.

We've evolved, Tierney says, into creatures who have replaced the quest for happiness with the quest to impress others with the things we have amassed. See my should bag; it speaks volumes about me. Listen to my ring tone; it does too. And so on and so on.

But, from an evolutionary standpoint, no one really cares about what we buy--at least other people's stuff doesn't stay in our memories for very long. How many of us can remember what a co-worker was wearing yesterday, Tierney prompts.

In a recession, needless spending becomes a kind of Faustian bargain that does more than just fill up our closets. So here are four ways to wean yourself off the consumer treadmill.

The first step is to understand how we got entrenched in the consumer cycle. Catch up to speed with how consumerism has come to be a pillar of the post-modern age, marrying the Global North and the Global South in unimaginable ways.

Consumerism's mojo is in its message, says Big Think's Carlos Mandelbaum. He follows how brands convince consumers to buy, buy, buy. It's created a "command economy," he says, in which advertisers' imperatives seem like they are helping us.

From Adbusters to starving artists, anti-consumerism is producing a host of art. There is some utility in branding, especially if you are an artist like Ryan McGinness

To understand what happens to your purchases after you are finished with them, it's hard to beat Annie Leonard's "Story of Stuff," a short history of how the material world is raping the natural world. (Do notice, however, the advertising in the bottom third of Leonard's video.)

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Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

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Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

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26 ultra-rich people own as much as the world's 3.8 billion poorest

The Oxfam report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency."

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  • A new report by Oxfam argues that wealth inequality is causing poverty and misery around the world.
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People who constantly complain are harmful to your health

Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.

Photo credit: Getty Images / Stringer

Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.

Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.

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