Simply Said

I've had my own experiences of loitering. Standing around outside Target on a hot August afternoon, laughing and observing the passersby always on such a rush. Carts piled high with Bounty, Gerbers, or Johnson Johnson, it was easy to tell where the mothers were constantly rushing to. I could stay for hours under the shade, my presence barely concealed by the overhanging plaster roof, home to nests of crows that gathered for the occasional tossed sandwich or spilled milkshake. I've had my own memories of window shopping at Christmastime, coveting the glorious emerald earrings or a platinum watch that had more zeroes in the price than I'd ever earned in my entire life. I've browsed through a department store just for the chance to lust over cashmere sweaters and premium leather purses. I've been there and I've been back.

And yet none of it ever satisfies me. Wanting, desiring, lusting, no matter how you say it, the feeling's inevitably in everyone - from toddlers clutching a teddy bear in Toys R Us to the undergrad searching Amazon for dresses. Our society's practically been built around consumerism ever since the early days when French fashion designers decided that changing the look every season would increase their sales. Friends compete to see who can show off the most bling, because it's so eminent that the more you spend, the more have to make yourself happy. You even find sites like Fancy these days - an entire community of lustful buyers, wanting but not able to receive. Users "Fancy" products that they wished they had and can check out the vast numbers of members who own specific products of their liking. Does buying stuff really satisfy our hunger or does it just create an illusion of happiness and carefree spending?
It's not too difficult to learn to love buying, but what's difficult is giving up on your dreams. Or at least something that feels like your dreams. Objects become the sole purpose of fashionistas and shopaholics, and personalities practically become defined by how much you own and how expensive those items are. I'd like to meet a person for once who hasn't at least heard of MTV Cribs or some sort of a spinoff. What's the enjoyment of leaning over the shoulders of people who have it so well off? Why feed off of the 1% in our nation, when the rest of the 99% are left out? In a period where unemployment is growing, consumerism just doesn't seem to be the ethical "thing" anymore.

There's too much we can't do in life to spend time envying others. If Rob Reiner's The Bucket List taught us anything, it was that life's too short to let opportunities just past by. It's too short to just let small things occupy us and take over our minds. Crass consumerism may be vital to capitalism, but no one benefits from taking it to their heads. Generally speaking, "crass" is even defined as crude. Our society - the one that's thrived so well - is becoming a one use world. Think of environmentalists when I say that almost everything is made of plastic. This device you're reading from. That pen on your worktable. Your polyester clothing. Plastic, once hailed as a wonder material that takes millenia to break down, is now used for purposes such as plastic bags to hold plastic toys in plastic containers. Perhaps I'm being a bit hard on the ergonomics industry, but I'm getting the feeling that not only has society changed to becoming a fast paced, competitive dog-eats-dog world, but it's become a wasteful reality. We waste time every day thinking about what to buy, rather than enjoying what we already have. We waste money on clothing and gadgets that we don't really need because we think they'll help us save some productivity and time in the future.

If anyone would stop for a moment in their flurry to just think about the truth, it's evident that maybe we don't need to move forward so fast. Maybe everyone should take a while to think things over, to look back on their life, and to see if their checks and balances are in key. Maybe everyone should look over the purchases they've made in the past and wonder when they'll ever have enough. As Americans, we place too much of ourselves into monetary issues. We transform beautiful, simple things into complex algorithms that always involve a gain at one end. We mash together our own desires for the possibility of a greater prize once we reach the finish line.

I was there, once. I used to stand outside malls, hide behind doors to get a lick of cool air, sneak past vendors for a free sample. I used to envy the hottest items on Amazon, Black Friday deals, and bargains on Cyber Monday. I used to go to McDonald's and spend who-knows-how-much on sodas and burgers. I was there once. And now I'd like to simply say that I'll give it all up. After all, is money really everything?


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