Conspicuous Consumption

"We are encouraged to spend money we don't have, on things we don't need, to create impressions that don't last, on people we don't care about."

-- Tim Jackson

It's funny. I posted this quotation as a status update on Facebook, and within minutes three of my friends responded with comments that basically said "not me." Well, I'm glad that my friends are so economically and psychologically enlightened, but I think we've all been guilty of at least some of what Tim points out above.

But to take a step back, he is not pointing fingers at any specific consumer, per se. What he's saying is that retailers, advertisers, and even our national economic policy encourages people to spend beyond their means. And any time you're buying stuff on credit you are literally spending beyond your current means.

The fact that retailers and advertisers encourage this is expected and nearly universally accepted. But the fact that our economic health as a nation is based upon people buying crap they don't really need with money they don't really have is a national disgrace. Better for the economy to crash and burn (which it will do eventually in on way or another, anyway) than to continue to prop it up with conspicuous consumption!

Back to my friends. As enlightened as they, and we, like to see ourselves, if we look around our homes (many of which are, in and of themselves, too freakin' big) we'll find all kinds of stuff we don't need. Why we bought it, whether it was to impress others or not, is a question we can sort out with our therapists, but the fact is we are all complicit victims with both Madison avenue and Wall Street.

What to do? Divest! Get rid of all that crap you don't need. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Or get rid of it all and start over. Hopefully with more consciousness and less acquisitiveness.

Then you can invest your time and money in more important things. Like creativity, helping others, caring for the planet, finding joy within and sharing it.

Life is so much more than just consumption. And it's so much more enjoyable when you're not ruled by the marketplace. Move beyond the current economic system and explore the alternatives. In all kinds of unexpected ways, the Universe will thank you.

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