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Our Consumer Culture

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posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 12:17 PM
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Of all the social constructs contained within our particular era, I’ve found myself most questioning my role as a consumer. We undoubtedly live in a consumer culture, and one unlike any in the history of mankind. What I’m interested in exploring here is what, precisely, that entails, and how that might affect me or distract me from my true desires or purpose.

To Consume

Thought I’d start with the etymology definition here, which, as usual sheds an interesting light on the term we often use without giving much thought.

Con- together, with
Sumere- to take

Latin, consumere: to use up, eat, waste
French, 14th century, consume: "to destroy by separating into parts which cannot be reunited, as by burning or eating," hence "destroy the substance of, annihilate," from Old French consumer "to consume" (12c.)

Specifically, "to destroy by use, wear out by applying to its natural or intended use" from c. 1400. Sense of "to engage the full attention and energy of" is from 1570s.

Human Consumption


While human bodies have been used as a commodity as far back as history records, I believe we have reached unprecedented levels of sexual objectification (due in part to unlimited access to sexually charged imagery, as well as continued willingness for people to offer themselves up for consumption.) The habit of seeking gratification in sexual imagery might have unintended consequences, and one of these I believe is to “destroy by separating into parts which cannot be reunited.” In this case, the all that is essential in being a person (soul/personality) is subjugated and subdivided into body parts (or- even more distant- depictions thereof) that determine one’s worth or value.

Consumerism


Here is an aspect in my life that I want to take some direct action to make changes. I’ve fallen into the same trap which has befallen so many of my peers, which is to buy, buy, buy. Sometimes I put so little value on my time (work) that I spend it on things that give no return. Considering the amount of time and energy invested into the invasive, all encompassing realm of marketers, I have to wonder if I’m being subtly robbed of my life’s worth.

Consuming Thoughts and Energy

I have to wonder how much of my time and energy is being consumed by falsity or the illusion of choice/freedom.


Cui Bono


Now the real question… who benefits from our wasted energy/commodity/thought?

Certainly not us!

Thanks for reading, friends. Please share any thoughts or insights you have on the subject!

edit on 21-1-2019 by zosimov because: (no reason given)




posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 12:21 PM
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a reply to: zosimov


I personally feel the major issue with our current consumerist/consumptive mindset is when the person in question over-leverages themselves, i.e. going into unreasonable debt. I'd be the last person to lie and tell you I don't have a bunch of stuff I really don't need, because I do, it's just that I don't carry debt on any of it so I can sort of justify this to myself as to why I have them.



posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 12:26 PM
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a reply to: AugustusMasonicus

(Hey Auggie!)

I think if it makes you happy, then it serves a purpose.

I was so positively struck, however, by Thoreau when he wrote (and I don't have the exact quote) about how the more objects he accumulated, the more needless work it caused him dusting etc. I thought that was funny and well true too. When we get more stuff we worry more about upkeep and protection. Which might be fine... ?

I'm really just trying to think about which values I want my kids to have, and I really hope that "stuff" is rather farther down the line.

Hope you're having a good MLK day!




posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 12:37 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

Here's a really good video on advertising theory and the consumer. And what is the best way to get people or manipulate people into buying a product:




posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 12:41 PM
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originally posted by: zosimov
I think if it makes you happy, then it serves a purpose.


To quote this new program about downsizing everyone is talking about, 'I touched it, and it gave me joy'. (remind me to tell you a funny but obnoxious story privately)


I'm really just trying to think about which values I want my kids to have, and I really hope that "stuff" is rather farther down the line.


We weren't wealthy growing up although we weren't poor. 'Stuff' was a an occasional treat. Now things are different.



posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 12:47 PM
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originally posted by: AugustusMasonicus

originally posted by: zosimov
I think if it makes you happy, then it serves a purpose.


(remind me to tell you a funny but obnoxious story privately)


Lol, looking forward to it.


We weren't wealthy growing up although we weren't poor. 'Stuff' was a an occasional treat. Now things are different.


I think that, for a kid, getting new stuff as an occasional treat is probably the best way to go/be happy.




posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 12:51 PM
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Looking at the methods of production, the means of production we can see one of the reasons for this consumer culture. Product can now be produced way beyond the demand for it. Remember that hold hack, supply and demand? When the supply out paces demand one or two things can happen. One, prices might be lowered and two, demand must be increased.

Lowering the price for product does not bring forth the desired ''profits'' of the manufacturer. Sure, profit is still there but not to the scale possible by the rate and ease of production. To make the best return on that investment for production, the best avenue for that to happen is for demand to be increased. Hence

Madison Avenue.

Rather than just advertising a product so that purchasers can know about a product, advertising is the engine of producing the ''want it'' rather than ''need it'' mentality that is the key to consumerism. Accent what people want. Blur the lines between want and need. Remember the Stones ''You can't all ways get what you want''? That has been overturned in the minds of consumer culture to ''you can always get what you want.

Work more, work harder, get credit, get good credit scores so you can get even more credit.

In the long run our consciousnesses are being created by the advertising doctors of Madison Avenue. Smart and brilliant people who have access to the most up to date psychological revelations are hired to find ways to get through and over the average consumer. Man, I could go on and on.

Your point of our lifes worth being stolen is dramatic. Rather than finding out who we are, out tastes and dreams are fed to us by popular culture and the latest fad and social construct, fads and social constructs that will be discarded as soon as the profits begin to wain and a new ''gotta be there, gotta do it gotta have '' it is put in place and we wander off from the dry feeding hole of the past fad in search of the next.

In case you have not encountered this little tune by Tom Waits, this little jingle might tickle you a bit.



And lest we ever forget....




posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 12:58 PM
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a reply to: dfnj2015

Absolutely fundamental knowledge for comprehending how our culture is manipulated. I believe, and I seldom use the word believe, that without knowing about Bernays as a key symbol of consumer history we will never be able to free ourselves form this yoke.

And one of the basic things about Bernays was his personal history in psychology. His father was married to Sigmund Freud's sister. His fathers sister was, guess who, Freud's wife. So Bernays was a double nephew of the father of psychology, raised unlike almost any other person in the world from early childhood into the study of psychological manipulation.



posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 01:01 PM
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Thanks for an interesting post! And that Waits song is perfect.

I particularly was struck by this you wrote:


originally posted by: TerryMcGuire
Rather than finding out who we are, out tastes and dreams are fed to us by popular culture and the latest fad and social construct, fads and social constructs that will be discarded as soon as the profits begin to wain and a new ''gotta be there, gotta do it gotta have '' it is put in place and we wander off from the dry feeding hole of the past fad in search of the next.






posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 01:05 PM
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a reply to: dfnj2015

Thanks for the extra info!

I keep putting off a thread about the 1939 World Fair, in which Bernays played a role, among others. He was a busy guy I guess.


Edward Bernays directed public relations of the fair in 1939, which he called "democracity."[3] Grover Whalen, a public relations innovator, saw the Fair as an opportunity for corporations to present consumer products, rather than as an exercise in presenting science and the scientific way of thinking in its own right, as Harold Urey, Albert Einstein, and other scientists wished to see the project.[4] "As events transpired," reported Carl Sagan,[5] whose own interest in science was nevertheless sparked by the Fair's gadgetry, "almost no real science was tacked on to the Fair's exhibits, despite the scientists' protests and their appeals to high principles."

edit on 21-1-2019 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 01:14 PM
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originally posted by: TerryMcGuire
a reply to: dfnj2015

Absolutely fundamental knowledge for comprehending how our culture is manipulated. I believe, and I seldom use the word believe, that without knowing about Bernays as a key symbol of consumer history we will never be able to free ourselves form this yoke.

And one of the basic things about Bernays was his personal history in psychology. His father was married to Sigmund Freud's sister. His fathers sister was, guess who, Freud's wife. So Bernays was a double nephew of the father of psychology, raised unlike almost any other person in the world from early childhood into the study of psychological manipulation.


Somewhere I read Goebbels's bookshelf had Crystallizing Public Opinion and Propaganda on it.



posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 01:15 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

Sort like the story of the biting of the apple and the fall of man.



posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 01:16 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

Early last century the sufferagette movement began, the movement to establish women's rights to vote. State by state women were allowed to vote. It was not until 1920 that it became the law of the land.

One of the national women's marches early on had women marching for the vote. As part of their protest they held aloft torches of freedom. This was a Bernay's gem, holding aloft these freedom torches. Those torches were lit cigarettes.
And Bernays of course worked for Walter Raliegh, the tobacco company.



posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 01:26 PM
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originally posted by: AugustusMasonicus
We weren't wealthy growing up although we weren't poor. 'Stuff' was a an occasional treat. Now things are different.


Yeah, things are different. Despite HUGE increases in worker productivity the worker making the median wage simply does not have the purchasing power to meet all their own needs. When food and healthcare become luxury items you have to begin questioning the current system of pure laissez faire capitalism is good. I certainly have no rational argument to make why providing healthcare to people is important. I have no way to argue providing livable wages to workers is good public policy. It's all pure subjective judgments.

So how can anyone possibly express any different opinion of what is important over the giant loud speakers saying social safety nets are "bad" public policy.



posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 01:27 PM
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a reply to: TerryMcGuire

And how many women have died as a result of public relations since?



posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 01:46 PM
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a reply to: zosimov




posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 02:14 PM
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I wonder why there was never a modern remake of They Live! Maybe hit to many truths.



posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 02:18 PM
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My mother and older brother are prime examples of Big C Consumers, as if it were it's own profession. He pawned more s# off on me over the years that he didn't want anymore than I care to recall. Suffice it to say, most ended up donated, and very few things were kept, and the things I kept, I use frequently such as his Coca-Cola glassware set he had far too many of because they were on sale.
Cue the inevitable "Hey Nyiah, want these? Never used 'em, they're brand new!" 15 years later and I still have and use them daily, albeit with many lost to breaking over the years. The last one that shattered all over the floor dropped our number down enough to warrant buying a new glassware set finally.

Another item he had multiples of was a popcorn popper. I don't know why he thought he needed 3 of them, but evidently it was 1 too many and he gave it to me. We use it multiple times a week to pop the good stuff and avoid the chemical soup of the junk in the stores.

His closets were always stuffed with stuff, even he wasn't fully aware of what he bought. His wife/my sister-in-law sure did, and covertly thinned out what she could without him noticing now & then. I know exactly where this Turbo Shopper mentality came from. Our mother.

Growing up, her idea of time well spent was shopping. Imma tell you guys a story and probably make Aug shake his head in dismay. After being a farmer with side businesses, my dad worked pretty high up in an international company for a time, made good money and that tickled my mother pink -- she could shop all damn day long, no problem.

I remember one time he left for a multi-month trip abroad and made the fatal mistake of leaving one of his high-limit personal CCs with her instead of just the checkbook. It was a $10k card he seldom used, and this was the early 90's. My dad's flight left on a Friday afternoon, and she managed to max it out completely by Sunday. I don't even know WTF was bought, I remember NOTHING particularly impressive being bought. I know I didn't have anything beyond a few new (and needed) clothing items from Kmart during that particular trip of his. We didn't have private school fees or extracurricular dues or anything. We did eat every single meal out for a few days, but come on, Ponderosa & Denny's didn't cost $10k.

When my dad got back & saw the bill for that gem, he hit the roof. And she was never left with his CCs again.

To put that into perspective for people, she blew the current equivalent of about $18K in a weekend back then. And nobody's still really sure exactly what the flip she spent it on.

She's still like this, HAS to spend every penny she has. I can't fathom why you'd want to buy something, and then stuff it in a box because you're never going to use it. For example, she could open her own drug store with all the toiletries/bathing products she has (and that are probably no good anymore) And boxes and boxes of unused gadgets and trinkets, etc.

I'll be honest. I'm donating what I can when she dies, and tossing what I can't. I don't want any of it. If people hoard stuff because they think their families might want it when they kick the bucket, they're in for a very rude surprise -- most people honestly don't want other people's junk. If my grandmother thought we did, she was watching from the other side getting a reality check -- everything got sorted to "trash" and "donate" piles. I kept a Polish carved wood plate that's been in the family for a few generations, and an antique oil lamp. That's it. My mother kept far more, but none of it has any chance of ever being seen again, it's going to live in boxes until I look at it doing all this sorting AGAIN and donate it for good.

On the bright side, my dad was borderline minimalist, and it rubbed off on me & my younger brother. We're all frugal, we don't buy more than we need or can use, and we don't buy to replace things until we know they can't be fixed. The remainder of me & my husband's possessions that aren't visible around the house is in 4 storage totes in the basement, and we're looking to downsize to 2 this year. All total, that means we have about 10 totes worth items between us right now, both on display, in use or stored (not including stuff like coffee pot or dinnerware, the TV or computers) That's pretty damn good, IMO.



posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 02:45 PM
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I’ve always tried to spend my money on experiences, as opposed to material things.

$3,000 will be gone before you even realize what you spent it on. But that same $3,000 can give you a month in Europe that’ll be with you the rest of your life, no matter where you go or what happens to you.

I believe that the only thing we leave this earth with are experiences. Everything else is borrowed.



posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 02:53 PM
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Consumer culture is deadly to those who believe it the end goal itself instead of a means to an end. Most of us begin as idealistic youth but slowly are turned to the dark side through repetition, advertising and social conformity.

Money should be a means to an end, one that improves yourself, your environment or your relations with others. Self-mastery is a lifelong process and money is only useful for instruction and tools. The unique person you are is beyond measurement in monetary terms (despite the insurance companies). It is the root of Western values and liberties, recognition of the divine within us all.
edit on 21-1-2019 by Asktheanimals because: (no reason given)




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