Surviving Consumerism for Dummies
If you asked someone a week ago who Micheal Phelps was, that someone is likely to reply they don’t know who he was, but his last name reminds them of Bertie Wooster, whom Spode once threaten to beat to a jelly (assuming that someone has read “The Code of the Woosters” and is a quick thinker). Now, we not only know who Micheal Phelps is but are expected to care how many calories a day Micheal Phelps takes, what sort of love-triangle Micheal Phelps is in and who Micheal Phelps’ father was.
Advertisements set values, we all know that. They tell us what’s right, and what’s wrong. What’s good and what’s not. And we consume accordingly! Sometimes they don’t even have to come to us. We go to them. “The way you talk, the way you walk, the way you dress” is what makes you who you’d like to appear in today’s world. What you say don’t seem to matter as much as “how” you say it. So we buy the magazines, we switch on to the channels, we google. And we consume accordingly!
Some of us may want to think we are more independent than that. We have our own minds, we may protest, and our ‘beauty’ truly ‘is in the eyes of the beholder’. In the end, though, the powers that be, the Vishnu’s of this world, lord it over us like they do those [fainted-hearted] creatures we do not see ourselves alongside with. In one way or the other, they get us. Their hands are too long, their appetite unquenchable. That is something we can’t stop. It’s a given! But, we can help not sucking at their teats like babes incapable of choosing, surely! We can draw the line and say ‘no more!’ ‘enough is enough’. Or we’ll be like those people the bible talks about: who are pushed and pulled by every new teaching that comes along, like a ship without sail.
A look at msn’s health section bears ample witness for this. The food that was shunned last week, becomes “full of fiber” or “disease-fighting antioxidants called polyphenols” this week. The dietary plan that Oprah has been gushing about a month ago, suddenly becomes banned in half the modern world. Unless you are meant to lose weight by worrying about the continuous change in your dietary plans, you can never know where you stand with them. (Which is why I tell my friends to gobble up whatever they can get their hands on and leave the rest to providence. “Hasn’t the bible, after all, said ‘Sew be enjera bicha aynorim?!'”, I add).
This is the age of information, as well as consumption. We need information to consume, and they need us to consume theirs. So they try to tell us what to consume. A double-edged sword, it cuts both ways. Which is why we need to beware of what we hear. Lest the information we are consuming ends up consuming us instead.