Don’t Let Society Consume You By Kate Taylor
What do you think of when you hear the word capitalism? Individual rights? Freedom? Democracy? If these are the words that come to your mind, you aren’t (technically) wrong but you definitely are not grasping the entire picture. To me, capitalism means profit-oriented, privately owned, over-consumption and there is a huge disparity between who contributes to society and who reaps the benefits. In my mind, the praise of capitalism as an “ideal way to run society” is what is driving us straight into the ground.
However, I am not Karl Marx and I cannot solely blame capitalism for every little thing that is wrong with today’s technologically driven world. But, I will say that capitalism has given rise to a consumer society, which simply means that today, we are living in a world where the buying and selling of mass-produced goods is the most important social and economic activity. I say this because today, goods are not handcrafted or made from scratch; they are mass-produced and sold in large volumes. I say this because today, corporations partake in planned obsolescence, meaning they create products that will eventually break down or go out of style instead of producing goods that are long-lasting and quality. I say this because today, we are constantly chasing after the latest trends in fashion, technology, homes, food and cars instead of fixing what we already have.
If there is one person in my life who has been able to resist becoming a victim of over-consumption, it is my grandfather, a man who has never had anything handed to him. He grew up on a rural farm in Nova Scotia where his life was guided by the philosophy, ‘if something breaks, fix it’. He is a man that takes care of his possessions so that they can last a lifetime. The picture that I have included in this post is of his 1973 Land Rover that I took back in August when I was visiting my family in Nova Scotia. As you can see, the vehicle is in mint condition. I believe this photo serves as a testament to his lifestyle, one is that is not commonly found in today’s consumer society.
I believe my grandfather’s outlook on possessions can serve as a life lesson to us all, myself included. Although it may seem impossible to not want the iPhone 6S, a new MacBook Pro or those brand new leather Ralph Lauren riding boots – it can be done if you are willing to put a little work into caring for what you already own.
Ultimately, I cannot convince you to entirely alter your way of life but I can make you aware of how you are living it. Take a second and notice the words that I have bolded above. They are all words that describe what living in a consumer society is truly about. Let that soak in and be a motivator for saying no to over consumption, to stop swooning over the latest trends and start taking care of and fixing what you already have.