consumerism

  • You Are What You Buy

    ·

    The roller coaster broke at a crucial moment, sending the cars whizzing high into the air, and Wendy turned to her boyfriend and screamed, “We’re going to die!” Indeed, both could see parts flying in midair around them, including wheels that should have been attached to the bottom of their car and firmly anchored to the track.

    As they spun across the sky they saw the track receding. Air, and only air, buffeted the steel that held them to their seats. Her boyfriend screeched like a 4 year old girl covered with spiders.

    Time for my life to flash before my eyes, Wendy thought. A couple heartbeats passed and there was no life flashing. Well, she thought — where is it?

    Instead, the vision of a familiar red-haired clown appeared before her. “On behalf of the whole McDonald’s corporation,” he said, “I want to thank you for all the food and drinks you bought from us during your life.” His somber, creepy clown-face faded to be replaced by a Barbie doll. “On behalf of Mattel, thank you … thank you … thank you so much for your patronage. We hope our products brightened your young life.”

    “What the…?” Wendy shouted, her hair whipping around her in slow motion.

    Her favorite jeans company thanked her, followed by three different brands of makeup and hair products. Next it was representatives of the shows she religiously watched. “Thank you,” they told her, “thank you from the bottoms of our hearts.”

    Steve Jobs appeared and thanked her for using Apple products so religiously. Desperately she interrupted him and said, “What is this! What the hell?”

    “What do you mean?” said the vision of Steve.

    “What happened to my life? This is supposed to be my life flashing before my eyes!”

    “Wendy,” he said, “this is your life.”

    She stared at him, dumbstruck. “This is my life? The products I used?”

    Steve shrugged. “You live in a consumerist society. What do you expect? You’re judged by what you buy, and when you die — if you’ve shopped well — your heaven is a huge upscale mall, and you have an endless credit card.”

    It took a few precious seconds for her to process this. “Did I shop well?” she asked him.

    “Wendy, Wendy, Wendy … if you hadn’t, would I be here right now?” His transparent image smiled before fading, replaced by the horrifying view of her doom.

    Wendy stared at the ground rushing at her, suddenly without fear, and urged it to hurry.

    She had shopping to do.

  • Not really.

    Well, except that they seem like it for that initial glowing period after purchase. That warm wonderful shiny moment where you hold the beautifully crafted product, so elegantly packaged and presented, and you think, “it’s mine! MINE!”

    This glow usually lasts anywhere between 15 minutes to 4 days, then the magic wears off and it’s just another inanimate object you used to try to fill a hole in your life. But the hole is still there, and you’re now deeper in debt.

    Why do I say this? Because I live it.

    Every time I do this I tell myself, “this is the last time I indulge myself.” Think about how flawed a statement that is. And now, even as I tell myself this, I know it’s flawed, I know it’s a lie I’m telling myself, yet I’m compelled to do it over and over again.

    What is even worse, is I’ll initially laugh at a product, and say, “That’s useless! Apple is now lost without Steve Jobs guiding THE TRUE WAY.” I’ll say that and mean it. And then…

    And then…

    Six months later I own the product.

    I cannot blame Apple for this. The blame lies squarely on my shoulders. What I need to do is find the hole my life, figure out its true nature, and then find a way to fill it correctly, with the right plug.

    I really should have titled this, “Apple Products are Not the Plug for Your Hole.”