Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Social Consumerism

My buddy Guy Wonders strikes again over at Cul de Sac Blues. One of his cronies termed group shopping trips as "social consumerism". Not sure if he coined the term or not, but it is a handy term indeed.

Like most other people of the heavy left leaning persuasion, I've had consumerism on the brain in recent years. My right leaning buddies don't seem to talk about this as much, but they do seem to warm to the subject when I bring it up in conjunction with, "Where the heck is all my money going? And how did all this crap end up in my basement?"

I resonate with those photo spreads in Yes! magazine showing the sea of abandoned cell phones and the island of forgotten Ford Fiestas. I'm forever frustrated by ridiculous packaging, the wasteful "simplicity" of so many items in grocery stores, and the inability of Richmond, VA to take up recycling 5/6 of the plastic containers I end up with. I don't find shopping relaxing. It creeps me out.

But then there's "social consumerism" which is the co-mingling of interaction with others and buying. This combination is very alluring to me. I LOVE charity auctions. We have one in our congregation, as does our sister congregation and I get all excited about those. In Cul de Sac Blues, Mrs. Wonders and other neighbors go on a second-hand-store odyssey. And here at our church quilting group, we love to go on a fabric and notion binge together. These are wonderful, memorable community occasions, but there's the eternal consumerism problem - I always end up with too much stuff.

I don't have answers to this. It is something I struggle with as I try to lead a sustainable lifestyle and be a good role model for my kids. Then my son and I go to the quilting store and buy twice as much as planned because he wants to make a quilt with frogs and race cars.

My daughter seems to have a plan, however. This morning in our ongoing struggle to get her potty trained she made the defining statement. She peed on the bag of quilting stuff.


Jim said...

Try a group shopping trip to a farmer's market, preferably one nearby. Not only do you get companionship and purchase food that you need, but you can also purchase food that was grown locally, saving on the use of fuel.

Mary Rose said...

Delbert has a song about too much stuff....I can relate. I especially have an issue with taking too much stuff with me when I travel, which is odd because I am a seasoned (47 years) traveler,so I should be "streamlined" in my baggage. It may be because when I was younger I was poor. Poverty is a very unstable situation, so mayhaps I take all my stuff with me for security and stability reasons? Don't know, but anyhoo, here's some lyrics about all that stuff we got....

Too Much Stuff lyrics

Artist - Delbert McClinton
Album - One Of The Fortunate Few
Lyrics - Too Much Stuff

Big house, big car, back seat, full bar.
Houseboat won't float. Bank won't tote the note.
Too much stuff. There's just too much stuff.
It'll hang you up, dealing with too much stuff.

Hangin' out on the couch puttin' on the pounds.
Better walk, run, jump, swim. Try to hold it down.
You're eatin' too much stuff, too much stuff.
It'll wear you down, carrying around too much stuff.

Hundred dollar cab ride, fogged in, can't fly.
Greyhound, Amtrak, oughta bought a Cadillac.
Too much stuff. Too much stuff.
It'll slow you down, fooling with too much stuff.

Well, it's way too much.
You're never gonna get enough.
You can pile it high
but you'll never be satisfied.

Rent a tux, shiny shoes, backstage, big schmooze.
Vocal group can't sing, won awards for
Too much stuff. Too much stuff.
They just keep on going, rolling in all that stuff.
Got hurt, can't work, got a lot o' bills,
But the policy don't pay 'less I get killed.
Too much stuff. Too much stuff.
Just my luck, counting on too much stuff.


Running back can't score till he gets a million more.
Quarterback can't pass. Owner wants his money back.
Too much stuff. Too much stuff.
You know, you can't get a grip when you're slipping in all that stuff.

Women every which-a-way messing with my mind.
You know, I fall in love every day three or four times.
Too much stuff. Too much stuff.
It'll mess you up, fooling with too much stuff.

Yeah, too much stuff. Too much stuff.
Too much stuff. Too much stuff.
You never get enough 'cause there's just too much stuff.
You know you can hurt yourself, fooling with too much stuff.
Yeah, it'll tear you down, fooling with all that stuff.

(Lyle Lovett sings with Delbert)

Mary Rose