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.)
Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."
- Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
- Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
- Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
The real Game of Thrones might be who best leverages the hit HBO show to shape political narratives.
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren argues that Game of Thrones is primarily about women in her review of the wildly popular HBO show.
- Warren also touches on other parallels between the show and our modern world, such as inequality, political favoritism of the elite, and the dire impact of different leadership styles on the lives of the people.
- Her review serves as another example of using Game of Thrones as a political analogy and a tool for framing political narratives.
A new study shows that some men's reaction to sex is not what you'd expect, resulting in a condition previously observed in women.
- Climate change is no longer a financial problem, just a political one.
- Mitigating climate change by decarbonizing our economy would add trillions of dollars in new investments.
- Public attitudes toward climate change have shifted steadily in favor of action. Now it's up to elected leaders.
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