Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What's Goin' On: the heart of consumerism?

At first blush this article may seem like another reason to get happy.

But I'm not one who buys into (pardon the pun) the idea that we should all 'get happy.' I think the current obsession with constantly being joyful is misguided and irresponsible, in fact. We are not designed that way, nothing in nature is. Emotions ebb and flow just like the tides, and we grow our character and value our joys from the learning how to ride the opposite (Goethe said something similar, this is not a new idea: “Only by joy and sorrow does a person know anything about themselves and their destiny. They learn what to do and what to avoid.”). Taking a pill to mask emotions doesn't deal with them, it merely masks them. They stick around, lingering like unwanted guests at a party. So you never fully really do experience joy or happiness anyway. That doesn't seem fair, does it? Or right. We need to address our emotions, to answer when something brings sadness to our door. Once the emotion is satiated, it will get up and leave. The party can continue.

That's all a philosophical discussion in itself, but what I'm wandering towards here is a vicious cycle that we may be caught in. A web of our own making:


This article suggests that we are more susceptible to over-purchasing when we are depressed. No surprise, but very telling. I don't know about you, but I don't recall there ever being a time like there is now: we consume ourselves to death every day, our children are now obsessed with status symbols and 'stuff', and there is talk that we are the more depressed than ever. (A great book argues that we are overwhelmed by choice and lack of hope: (link soon). So if this depression feeds the consumerism that feeds the depression -- how do we get off the rollercoaster?

Great discussion, worth having.

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