The Growing Desperation of the Consumer Machine

Illustration of person caged in a shopping cart“A shopping cart flipped upside down forms a cage that I use to protect myself from consumerism.”
~ Jarod Kintz

We were just sitting down to dinner. Friends of ours, stopping by for an impromptu visit decided to stay. The kids (all five across our two families) were settled in to their chairs as we brought out the homemade burritos and guacamole, cups of chocolate milk and a few local brews.

Then it happened. The phone rang.

Glancing at the Caller ID I knew the caller wasn’t anybody we knew. But it in a fit of defensive posturing I answered, knowing full well it was someone on the other end trying to get me to do or buy something. I was greeted by one of the more creative automated telemarketing messages in a while: A voice stating that “This was a missing dog alert”. Upon repeating that message, it appeared to be cut off or skip like a scratchy record — only to be interrupted by a second message stating “Press One if this message is skipping.”

Come on.

But here it was — another attempt by some entity to get me to spend my time and money in a way that I had no desire to: “Refinance you mortgage!”, “This is your LAST chance to eliminate your credit card debt!”, “We’re doing free carpet cleaning demonstrations in your area — are you interested?”, “We’re a public opinion company and would like to interview the oldest registered voter for XYZ.” I’m sure you’ve heard them all too.

The Growing Desperation of the Consumer Machine

I feel like the volume of this unsolicited *crap* is growing. Since we don’t have cable and listen mostly to National Public Radio, I only feel it in what comes over the phone and through the mailbox. If fact, eliminating the influence of commercials was one of the primary reasons we ditched cable in the first place.

Taking a step back though, it feels as if the Consumer Machine is reaching a new level of desperation. Like a crazed, withering vampire frenetically searching for a drop of life-sustaining blood before sunrise to keep him going.

Why? Is the Machine trying to keep itself from dying out? Or is it attempting to ride some wave of a so-called rebounding economy? Maybe. But I think it’s something else entirely.

Shackles, Tethers and the Binding of Our Beings

In part, I feel as if the Consumer Machine has up the ante on its offensive push because it has realized its own vulnerability in the face of a growing wave of change. More and more people are realizing that their lives can be more FREE and satisfying once they break free of the shackles of modern consumerism. Living deeply and deliberately each day requires few things that aren’t already given to us freely in this world.

Seeing the crack in their own armor, the Machine is stepping up its offensive to keep our spirits tethered to the artificial and fabricated, brainwash us into accepting this false dependency on what they are selling, and keep us bound to an ideology of materialism. They will do anything in their power to blind us to our innate perfection; anything to make us think we need THIS or THAT in order to be happy and satisfied; anything to make our minds, bodies and spirits beholden to their stuff — material or otherwise.

For far too long, the Consumer Machine has controlled the theater of consumer warfare, dictating every move and countering any attempt to win even one battle by us, individuals who dare to challenge their long-held reign. But a great change is underway…

An Invitation to Live Deeply Each Day

We are beautiful just the way we are. We are innately complete and whole. We can find peace by practicing peace ourselves. Harmony and balance — with each other and the natural world — should be the norm, not the exception.

The bottom line is that we do not need to be a part of the Consumer Machine because what is near and dear in this world can never come from it. We do not need to feed it. We do not need its output. Happiness will always come from within and from those who are closest to us. Friendships, experiences, simple pleasures, loved ones — these are what we need to consume each day to fortify our minds, bodies and spirits.

How have you challenged the Consumer Machine? Do you see their signs of desperation around you? What advice would you give others to empower their ability to be a part of this Change?

Be well,
Bill

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[Image: Ben Heine via flickr]

Comments
2 Responses to “The Growing Desperation of the Consumer Machine”
  1. I haven’t really noticed a desperate push from consumer culture lately, but I’m very insulated — no TV, select websites only! I think you’re right that more people are waking up to the idea that more stuff doesn’t make them happier, and a push back from consumer culture would make sense.

    I work with some very wealthy families, and as I was walking up one very long drive way (personal gym, pool, and tennis courts on the left, huge house on the right), I realized that I wasn’t envious of what they had. Their daughter is a lovely person in spite of her wealth and privileges, not because of them, their family works because they love each other, and the challenges of being a teenager are still, well, challenges. Everything else is just window dressing. I’m happy with my modest condo and my cat and my spouse. I wouldn’t know where to start if given a shopping spree!

  2. Bill Gerlach says:

    Thanks, Jennifer // Of course, it could just be my perception based on what’s around me. Honestly, I just do my best to tune it out. It’s like white noise at this point — in the background, but nonetheless annoying. Your personal insights speak volumes — and are inspiring. Learning to once again practice the “arts” of moderation, contentment, compassion and kindness — towards all living beings — could be just what the doctor ordered. Keep sharing what you have come to embrace!