Friday, July 6, 2012

Rising Above Consumerism



Many bookstores these days are required to carry more than just books in order to stay afloat as a store. You probably know that already - think of your last trip to one. What did you see? Probably cards, puzzles, stuffed animals, jewelry, bookmarks, book lights, and other little kitsch items.

It's when I'm receiving things like this, elbow-deep in price stickers and plastic and marketing, that I get disgusted at the consumerism and greed in our society.

Don't get me wrong; these things are not the bookstore's fault. It's a societal demand that results in bookstores stocking things like spidery head massagers and decks of literary-themed cards. But the fact remains that our society feels the need for these things. We give people useless gifts, so that we can give them something. We buy ourselves that new sweater or cool toy, not because we need it really, but because it's on sale and we want more - sometimes because we're enthralled with it at the moment, sometimes to fill a void, sometimes just to have it.

Working with so many cheap, useless things makes me think of other uselessness: Happy Meal toys that are treasured for an hour, then lost at the bottom of a massive wooden chest. Decorative knick knacks that accumulate dust in a corner. Clothing that we haven't worn in years, piled up in the closet - I have plenty of that myself.

When you're at home this weekend, think about all the stuff you have that you don't really need. Does it make you happy to have it? If it doesn't bring you joy each time you see it, chances are you can live without it. Make a pile. Take it to Goodwill, or Salvation Army. Post it on your local Freecycle, and someone who needs it will come take it off your hands (and you'll be amazed at what people will take if it's free).

By the end of the weekend, you'll have less clutter and more room to enjoy the things that really matter to you. My junk corner includes yarn I'll never use, old candle holders, craft items that aren't my style. If someone else can use them, I'm happy to pass them on.

And then, I won't be reminded of our ridiculous society every time I look at them. I can enjoy a society of my own design, that doesn't require stuff in order to achieve happiness.

At least until I go back to work and am once again knee high in flotsam and jetsam.

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