Seth Godin: Unconscious Consumption

Usually I use a quote to open a topic or a general thought for an issue or an image.  This excerpt of most of Seth Godin’s blog of Nov. 27, 2015 is the subject.  I post it here to return to on an annual basis because it is comforting to know that others also recognize the absurdities in our current cultural norms. Occasionally feeling as if I might be the only one who finds it totally absurd that people would literally trample each other to save 30% on something they really didn’t need is replaced by a recognition that at least a few people feel the same.  What was at one time a act of love or appreciation, or a sharing of happiness in faith, has become a social obligation, even worse, it has become a competition to outdo last year or your neighbor.

This seems to be part of a larger cultural split. A few companies and people are moving to a more generous norm:  sustainable production and living, tiny houses, green business, and treating employees fairly, while the majority, without shame or concern, seem to recognize nothing but increasing shareholder value (or their own material possessions) regardless of the impact on individuals and the community in which they reside (or their own finances), and often simply accepting that it means their lives will not improve no matter how hard they work.  It seems to me that our society can find a middle ground where profit is well-served, but the contributions and costs to all are recognized.

Seth Godin
Unconscious consumption
Black Friday, of course, is a con.

But it’s also a symptom of a terrible trap we’ve set for ourselves.

Now, consider the mall. The mall, today.

For the three billion people on Earth who have never experienced air conditioning, window displays and the extraordinary safety and wealth that the mall represents, a trip to the mall is mindblowing. For the typical consumer, egged on by a media frenzy and harried by a completely invented agenda, today is nothing but a hassle.

All that time, all that money, all those emotions spent for not one good reason.

It’s more about what you didn’t get on sale, or how many more people you need to “cross off” or just how much shiny but useless stuff you can grab faster than the next person. A reversal of 100,000 years of not enough to a brief few decades of more, more, more.

Don’t let someone else scam you into being unhappy.