I hate the word consumer. I despise the underlying idea and worldview that it holds up, supports, and embodies. It is detrimental to my own psychological and, I believe, to our social survival.
We need to fight back. To rid our language and culture of this attack on our being and our society. It is a plague that undermines our psyche and our civilization.
I buy stuff, lots of stuff, as much as I can afford – okay, perhaps a little bit more than I should.
However, I do not CONSUME anything.
Let’s start with something simple: the Rabbis called this level Peshat – a Hebrew word that literally means something like ‘straight’, but it is the starting point of any rabbinic analysis of a text. It asks what does the text actually mean? What does it mean on its face? The simple, straightforward meaning of a text. Thus, in this situation, let’s start with the literal definition of the word ‘consume’.
If you toss the word into your search engine and seek its definition, the first basic meaning of the word is that it means that you ingest something. You swallow it whole and use it up. Nothing remains after you consume something.
That’s the problem.
Our Western, materialistic, commercial, corporate advertising-driven system needs us to be brainwashed into thinking and believing that we are consumers. Thus, having consumed the stuff that this commercial Capitalistic system has produced, we will inevitably have to almost immediately buy more of the same, since what we just purchased is gone.
That is a lie.
That is the threat to our survival as meaningful people and society – and it is a threat to our planet. That lie is a threat to the whole human species.
I don’t consume. The stuff I buy I enjoy, and I cherish.
I buy a lot of books, and I read them. I also re-read them. I can’t re-read them if they are all used up and gone. If I had ingested them and consumed them, then they would cease to exist. Well, as my wife will testify, they do still exist, and they take up a lot of room on my bookshelves. Too much room, she sometimes tells me. She, of course, being a public-minded person, does the ‘horrendously unthinkable act’ of actually borrowing books out of—a library! She has stopped buying books and stopped owning books! Unthinkable! Sheer blasphemy!
Okay, I’ve calmed down now, and I have forgiven her act of such a violation of…something or other, I’m sure it must be so.
Anyway, back to my point. I don’t consume books. I enjoy them. I read them. I collect them. I re-read and fondle them and the memories of my pleasure when I read them.
I watch DVDs. I watch shows that I stream. I listen to CDs and music that I hear on Pandora and YouTube. I enjoy them and re-listen to them. Those CDs exist on my computer’s hard drive, so I can replay them. I have the CDs stored so I can loan them out to friends who I wish to share in my enjoyment of them.
I don’t even consume food. Okay, perhaps I do consume my lunch. I just have a problem with lunch; I am hungry and never know what to eat. I just know that I need to eat something; otherwise, I won’t feel well. But I do my best to figure out and find something that satisfies me and sustains me. Which is why I often buy Cheetos. I like the taste of those fluffy, crunchy, flavor-filled orange things. I refer to them as the ‘Cheetos-factor’. I need them like some Mary Poppins kind of substance to help ‘the medicine go down’ when I have to eat something for lunch, and I just make myself some sort of sandwhichy thing.
Anyway. I don’t consume my Cheetos or even my lunch; I ate them, and I enjoyed them. Yes, they are all gone afterward, but, still I didn’t mindlessly do it. I mindfully enjoyed and savored the experience. I really love breakfast and dinner. I think about those two meals with delight and anticipation. I savor and enjoy the experience, and I always look forward to that experience.
I don’t consume my food. I eat it.
I don’t consume clothes. I wear them. I like how I look in shirts, pants, belts, shoes, socks, and even my undies. I think carefully about each of those items before I purchase them—I have a certain look, and I need to maintain that certain defining standard of who I am. The clothes makes the man; at least, they help define me. They are my costumes. I cosplay myself when I buy and wear clothes. I never consume any of them.
I agonize over having to buy a new car, i.e., a replacement car. The older one, who had served me well and put a lot of miles on it, eventually just breaks down and can’t justify spending the money on its upkeep. I have to buy another vehicle. I sell the previous one back to help afford the purchase of the new one. Still, I may use it up, but I didn’t consume it.
Okay, my car may consume gasoline.
Okay, I do use electricity to heat my home, power my computer, power our stove, etc. Thus, I may consume electricity since it is all gone when I used it. But I enjoyed the service and benefits that it offered me. Thus, I still claim and maintain I don’t consume it.
Our Market driven-Capitalistic-Advertising driven-‘built in obsolescence system requires, like a vampire that we become consumers. It requires us to use stuff up. To continually purchase something 'new' to replace what we had just previously bought. To purchase mindlessly and continually without savoring and enjoying what you had previously bought. To assume that everything is obsolete from the moment you obtain it. That system feeds off of us and sucks us dry and thus creating an ecological catastrophe by using up precious and limited resources. But that system doesn’t care since it is not human. It is an inhuman entity that has no self-realization; it is committing suicide. It is killing us and itself.
We need to stop being consumers. Our very existence depends on it.
So, bristle, take umbrage, complain, and proclaim to anyone and everyone, becoming annoying and loudly and vigorously declaring your freedom and self-worth by saying, “I am not a consumer!’
Get rid of ‘consumerism’! Stop this madness.
Help save ourselves and our planet from extinction.
Gary Jaron's musings.
In my High School Art Department someone had made an ornate sign on hung it on the wall that read: 'Ignore this sign completely.' A paradox couched in sarcasm and irony. This blog is for random musings on anything and everything that comes into my head.