Friday, November 9, 2007

In Praise of Consumerism

Consumerism gets a bad press. Consumerism (and by default, consumers) have been blamed for, among other things:

> Ruining the planet by using up scarce resources

> Encouraging a culture of selfish materialism

> Distracting people so they do not get restless and unhappy with their political leaders.

Certainly most religious groups are wary of the perceived dangers of consumerism. Nevertheless, I think they are all missing something rather important - most people like being consumers because it makes them happy. Better still, the consumerism of others leads to my happiness - and yours. Of course, it all depends on your definition of consumerism. If you view shopping (the main manifestation of consumerism) as a vulgar outbreak of 'Affluenza', then naturally you will want to curb it.

If, on the other hand, you consider shopping to be a manifestation of our need to gather together and share communal experiences that make us happy, then shopping is something to be encouraged for the greater good (retail as therapy indeed). For me, the bottom line is that consumerism equates to the democratisation of luxury. It is just in the past 100 years or so that the mass of people in the developed world have enjoyed access to the choice and quality of goods previously only available to the ruling classes in times gone by. That is a good thing.

So if you are going shopping this weekend, don't think of it as a chore: think of it as a celebration of your hard earned status as the equal of everyone else - regardless of class, colour or creed. Enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. That is all fine and dandy if our consumerism does not come at the expense of another human being going without or being forced into slavery so we can get our luxury goods on the backs of these laborers.


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