The Evils of Consumerism

I like to shop…… There I said it.

Now understand that I like to shop for MY things. Not drapes, microwaves or the trendiest, newest updated iGalaxydriod 3.0 thing.
I like the thrill of the hunt; finding a rare artifact, a great deal, forging a memory of a time and place, realizing a small benchmark on this journey that I trudge through.

This time of the year bombard social media with complaints about consumerism/capitalism. Facebook is a light with hate for personal greed and corporate avarice. Granted, much of that criticism is deserved; there is no iPad nor set of discounted dishtowels that is remotely worth the life of a human being ending as hundreds of Black Friday shoppers trample them to death in a mad rush. We can all agree to demonize that orgiastic, consumerist idolatry.

I understand that it gets overwhelming at times.  It seems as if western society might as well turn the entire months of November and December into “the Season” covering everything in tinsel, draping red all over so somebody can make some green.  It can feel suffocating.

Yet I wonder if we criticize the intent of system too harshly, allowing the accounts of zealots to paint our perspective with broad strokes.

Many of the hipster posts I read about hate for the holiday greed are angrily typed on the iPhones of those employed by the faceless corporate monsters they bemoan.

Do these people realize that if nobody bought anything that they would not have jobs?

This is a flagrant theory: I truly wonder if the American Economy as we know it would literally collapse without the Holiday shopping season? Perhaps businesses both large and small need this time to make a decent wage for the workers and even their industry.

Have they considered that it can be a very good thing to support artists, authors and markets that we enjoy, because without financial backing they would cease to exist? Before you complain about the ads during your favorite show, or the cost of your friend’s Netflix membership remember that without that “price”, the service you desire ceases to be. The free market is a fickle place; many are left destroyed and forgotten in her wake. Yet she may be a necessary mistress, providing sustenance in this symbiosis.

She needs us and we need her.

I have hundreds of books in my personal library, I never walk out of Barnes and Nobel empty handed. This may be a stretch: I believe that I am responsibly living out the golden rule when I make these purchases. “Do unto to others as you would them have do unto you.”

Subjectively, if I ever get something published would like you to buy my book (if it strikes your fancy). It brings joy to my heart and food to the mouths of my children when you buy one of my T-shirts. Buying things is not necessarily evil. It can be good.

I support the print industry. I support the collectible industry. I support the shrinking Christian heavy music scene (hang in there Project 86 and Demon Hunter!). They have enriched my life, they make me happy and I don’t want to see them go away.

Shopping

I also support a child in a third world country (his name is Davidson) and systematically, cheerfully give to local non profits.
I gleefully enjoy intentionally supporting markets that I believe in.

Am I a consumer? I guess.

I view myself as more of a supporter. May I be so bold as to deem myself a collaborator?

Can we find community among the consumerism? It may need to occur creatively and deserves thoughtful intentionality. Some distinct boundaries need be erected (in my opinion if you can’t buy it in cash, don’t buy it but that’s a topic for another time).

Support the market; cast your vote on who survives and who does not.

Be responsible and charitable.

It’s not all bad.

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