My Consumptive Hypocrisy

I pride myself on being frugal and living a simple life. In a world awash in hyperconsumption (and therefore drowning in debt, sickened by media misrepresentations, and inured to empathy), it’s a virtue to reject The Man’s prime consumption directive. (In case it’s not obvious, I’m also in love with the second meaning of the word consumption.)

I prefer to meditate, live well, and enjoy what I have. Long ago I realized the sublime joy that comes from detaching from conspicuous consumption. (I once saw a quote somewhere about “How lovely it is to wander around a shopping mall, gazing at all the things I don’t need”.)

We have a house that’s just the right size for us. Our car is 15 years old but reliable. We have a normal human-sized television. I don’t love shopping the way some people do; in fact, I start to get irritated and grumpy after 30 minutes in a store. I can feel the psychological marketing tricks working on me, and I don’t like it.

There are, however, three areas where my anticonsumption simple-living platitudes break down: Books, music, and video games. We ran out of shelf space long ago, so we have dozens of books laid on top of neatly-organized texts. Music is all digital these days, so there’s no space problem there — and truth be told I’m quite picky these days, so I don’t buy much music lately.

Video games are another story. I accumulate games with a rabid fanaticism that puzzles even me. As much as I ridicule people who live at the mall or go racing off to whatever idiotic sale pops up, I find myself compelled to check the internet every day for new game deals. It’s ridiculous and embarrassing.

This morning I hit a new low, when I bought a game on Steam that I already own. I guess this is how it starts — you lose sight of what you have, and you keep throwing money after money at your addiction, trying to sate the monkey on your back. Before you know it, you’re alone with your crap and you spend hours staring at it, wondering how your life went so terribly, terribly wrong. Then you go on Reality TV.

I’m legally forbidden from judging anyone else ever again for Black Friday shenanigans. I will continue to mock and lambaste the marketers responsible for our consumer frenzy, but after wallowing in new depths of this little inferno, I cannot in good conscience level an accusatory finger at other humans for buying things they don’t need.

1 comment to My Consumptive Hypocrisy

  • Stik

    Great post. I often wonder myself about what I think of as our advertising based society. Marketing uses so much “money” that it makes me pause and think of where we might be if there were no advertising.

    note, money in quotes above because I know that creative accounting is used with movie marketing and television ads.