Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Questioning the consumer economy

Various things in life have caused me to consider the merits of our consumer economy:
  • The Story of Stuff - the beginning of this video makes it seem like it's not going to go anywhere interesting and that it's aimed at a younger audience, but I think this video says some good things about perversity of the perceived obsolescence and unnecessary waste that goes on in our society. Think before you shop.
  • Killing the Consumer (Anna Quindlen) - this is not my favorite of Anna Quindlen's pieces as it didn't leave me wholly convinced of her argument. While I don't agree with her argument that the government and various "responsible organizations" making decisions about what is good for people, I do agree with Quindlen that tobacco companies have disgusting motives. This article discusses how Camel No. 9 is terrible because it markets death to unsuspecting young women. (For their market preservation, in fact, as lung cancer has become a bigger killer of women than breast cancer.) Beware of the market?
  • Freegans - are people who live an "alternative" lifestyles as vegans who try to cut down on their carbon footprint, boycott unethical products, and do good for the community. Extreme freegans forage through the trash and eat what they find. (Apparently, very fresh foods and intact products can be found in the trash. There are also freegans who actively redistribute stuff they find in the trash. This makes one question what the fuck the people--usually business--who threw it away are doing.) In some back issue of Newsweek that I picked up around the house they ran an interesting pair of articles, one by a woman who tried to live as a freegan for a month, and one by someone denouncing freegans as not being socially responsible at all. I am not sure how I feel about freegans, but I know that I don't feel good about all this careless waste that goes on. It's about time people started questioning consumer values en masse.
I have also been questioning the enormous amounts of pressure put on students, faculty, and various other people in academic settings. The stress and work of the last two weeks caused me to develop a muscle spasm in my neck that is now being treated with muscle relaxants. Oy.

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