Monday, June 04, 2007

Consumption and Work

I have been thinking about consumption a lot lately, which makes sense since I am not working and drawing unemployment--I am work free. When my income drops down to $470 a week it's time to think about every purchase and start buying store brand shampoo and chicken when it is on sale. Consuming is a big part of our lives and many of us define who we are by the products we consume be they shampoo, lattes, cars, houses or vacations. We become the things we buy, which is itself a game of perceptions rather than reality. In this process we allow the world to define us via what are, ultimately, superficial markers. Yes, many of them define how much we earn or have but they don't say anything about who we are as in are we happy, kind, gving, capable of love. Does the purchase of a highly visible consumer product say anything about who I am? At one time in my life, I thought it was important to have a nice watch so now I have four of them and don't wear any of them. At one time I thought it was the thing to have a leather briefcase and now it sits in the back of the closet collecting dust. Buying the trappings of success don't make us successful just as not buying them doesn't make us unsuccessful. They are meaningless consumer goods that have been relentlessly marketed in such a way that we feel inadaquat if we don't buy them. "You can tell the most about a man by the watch he wears." "You can judge a man by his shoes." Craziness!