22 October 2008

Consumerism

I don't think I've mentioned it on here before, but we don't have TV. I mean, we have a TV, but we don't have the commercial stations, or the pay ones. We watch DVD's, but that's it. We also don't buy newspapers, most magazines, or other news/advertising media. I personally feel that the media over dramatizes things, and that watching/reading the news/current affairs really isn't good for us. And before you point out that it's important to know what's going on in the world, I do. I hear about the important events online via forums or newsgroups, or someone usually tells us if they think it's something relevant/of interest to us. We certainly don't live in ignorance, but we do severely restrict the media's influence in our house.

So it was quite an eye opener staying with my parents for a week, where my dad watches every single news channel, and many evening TV shows. In my media-deficient world, I thought that people were getting the message about peak oil, global warming, and the need to start caring for our world, but you see very little of it on TV. A few ads about greenhouse gasses, a few companies trying to sell their product as 'green' (when in reality it is anything but), but mostly, ad after ad trying to convince you that you need some new product, that your life won't be complete without it, or your family won't be safe/healthy/happy if they don't have this or that.

Then the news itself was filled with the news of the stock market falling and falling (interspersed occasionally with mentions of the latest murders/houses burning down and other maudlin stories, and you wonder why I don't watch it?) That, at least, was interesting to watch, even though much of it is beyond me. Governments and corporations are running around every which way trying to fix it. They want us to buy more, spent more, keep this artificial construct afloat. They way I see it, the stock market crash isn't the problem, it's simply a symptom of the bigger problem.

Near as I can tell, the stock market problems are due to the fact that people have just stopped spending. Thus profits from companies are down, meaning people don't feel it's safe to invest in them. So while people are busy worrying about the stock market and how to fix it, they're not seeing the real problem. People, the real people in the street, are struggling. The rising cost of petrol and thus food (which has to be transported using petrol), increased costs in rental and housing prices, and the over-reliance on credit to get through the tight spots, means everyday living for the majority of people is getting harder and harder. The stock market crash isn't going to affect these people, unless the company they work for goes under and they're out of a job. Yet for some reason, the stock market is the only thing the news, and the government, is worried about. Everyone believes that if only we can shore up the stock market, everything will be OK.

I don't believe it will be. Until we address the underlying issues of consumerism, and the need to have bigger, better, more, we cannot change this. And unfortunately, the stock market needs this drive to survive, it lives on people buying more and more, even if they can't afford it. And the media and advertising companies will manipulate people's minds until they can't really see the difference between a need and a want.

Since we began the process that has seen us move out here to our block of land and begin on this road to simple living and self-sufficiency, so many of our thoughts and ideas towards this have changed. We no longer feel the need to buy the latest and greatest, and though the withdrawal from the media and advertising has helped, it still would not have been possible without an underlying shift in our priorities. When we need something now, we first decide if we can make it or grow it. Purchases, when we do make them, are carefully thought out, and the options are gone over until we are certain we need the item, and that there is no other way to get it. I try to find second hand options if at all possible. Not only are these cheaper, but they are kinder on the environment. And if we do find that we need an item, and have to buy it new, we try to find locally made. We're far from perfect, but we are working towards a place where we feel happier with our lives, and more connected with the real world.

And what of the world situation? What is going to happen, and what do I think needs to be done about it? I have no idea. I'm not into solving the worlds problems. I can only work out what is right for myself and my family. We will survive this, whatever happens, because we have put ourselves in a position where we can. Despite the rising grocery costs, our grocery budget is going down (and I usually spend even a part of that on fruit trees!). Despite being further from town and petrol prices increasing, our fuel budget is going down. And hopefully, in the next 12 months, as the garden grows, we will become further along the path to supplying a large chunk of our own food.

4 comments:

Mumma Bear said...

Great post! I totally agree. We're back to being a no-tv household and it's so much more relaxing. I just updated my blogs about it (one from an urban homesteader perspective, the other from a mother's perspective). I feel much more relaxed when it's off.

Em said...

I have found it so much easier to stop spending money on useless things since I stopped watching tv. We never plugged ours in to the aerial when we moved here over a year ago and neither of us have missed it one bit! Instead we are building up a nice dvd collection of things we really enjoy! We also dont buy the paper, and only occasionally get magazines about crafts, gardening, simple living or shooting :)

rdtj04 said...

Great post btw. I have the same as you. Only DVD's. No junk mail and only the free weekly local rag and that is it. I love it. Aldi sends me their catalogue via email. I don't need it otherwise. I can always look online if I really NEED to. Off to feed the cows. Cheers

Rinelle said...

Glad to see I'm not the only one! We also never had an arial installed when we moved, and haven't missed it once. DD enjoys ABC kids when we visit my parents, but otherwise doesn't miss it. I do occasionally wish we could get the educational programs that are on ABC in the morning, but not enough to get an arial.

I haven't gotten rid of the junk mail yet, must do that, but usually it goes in the bin without being looked at.