Walking through a large mall yesterday (in Anytown USA), I had a real eye-opening experience. For the first time in fifty years I actually saw through the whole scheme; the facade, as it were, of the much taken for granted ideal of consumerism.
Boy, have we been bought off long enough… told where to shop, lured by false sales, mesmerized by painted smiles and standard cliches.
While looking for a no-frills place to fill my hungry stomach, I glanced at the fancy restaurants with their decidedly non-professional staff living job-to-job; going through the motions of trying to make ‘me’ (the consumer) feel ’special’ by offering pastiche coated and preserved flavorings, mass-produced toppings, and ultimately some realistic looking garnishes with flowers (also fake). Piped in muzac was sponsored by someone-or-other, and the rewards bonus was double this month…
Colourful photos of mouth-watering assembly-line dishes were brightly lit behind the order takers, on display because there was no aroma of home cooked food to compete. I thought to myself, “These people don’t really care about me, they just want my money”. And so it is – the happiest person in the restaurant was the cashier, ringing up sales from burping customers stumbling past to reach the restroom.
We Bid You Entrance
And so it was, strolling through the mall, window after window competing for my eye’s attention. Whether shiny or feigning motion, they failed to lure me through the trap door.
Don’t you hate it when you’re trying to walk in a mall with a destination in mind, only to be bumbling and tripping into the rumps of fellow mall-gawkers who stop to stare?
Window fare: the latest cleverly marketed consumer items guaranteed to evaporate your disposable income: shoes, swimwear, handbags, golf clubs, jean promotion, public lingerie and sports equipment. What-have-you? What want you? Sorry, I already have.
The next best alternative to window fare is media fare, in the form of poster-like advertisements and/or their 21st century counterparts, the ubiquitous flat screen high definition video spamming machines. Positioned at strategic pedestrian buffer-zones, the micro-minute repeating bits of attention pulling hyperactivity burst forth without provocation to insult law-abiding citizens. ‘You asked for it!’ simply by virtue of walking in the mall.
The third and latest scheme is the home-chef approach. A part-timer is hired and stationed in the supermarket or department store to whip up quick couture and disseminate a morsel to every passer-by in the hope of generating impulse sales (hey, that item wasn’t on my shopping list!)
Another insulting shenanigan is the super-intrusive sidewalk sales promoter. They rush up to you, frantically waving a clipboard and ask for “three minutes of your time” as you try to deftly side-step yourself out of intrusion’s way. In my opinion this is much more offensive than telemarketing cold calls. At least you can hang up on them.
For my money, nothing beats Quality Midnight Shopping Time. The purpose of nocturnal forays into consumerism is two-fold. To purchase those items on my survival list, as well as taking note of the pitfalls and potholes to be avoid. Extremism and excessiveness (Mega-Mac?) should not be tolerated. Keep it sensible, retailers. Back to basics. Honest value, quality before quantity, and designed for reliability rather than gimmickry.
The ‘Constumer’ is Always Right
I am a customer. At the same time, I am unfortunately a consumer. I strive to consume as little as possible. Therefore, buy me something that does not need replacement, will last a lifetime, and/or is easily repaired. Let me buy that item using my integrity and knowledge of who I am, what my budget is (no credit, please), and what I need.
By consuming efficiently, we create sustainability and discourage the wasteful and rampant consumerism (along with the credit bubble) that has devastated our planet and our economy.
More tips on how to consume efficiently:Make a list before you go.
Future Trends (when things get really bad)Buy local whenever possible.
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