#Idea – Citizen – Consumer Crisis of Meaning / 06.05.19

There is a tendency
To think of people
More as ‘consumers’ than ‘citizens’
Though it wasn’t always this way.

As a result, you’re expected to consume (i.e. ‘take’)
Not to contribute (i.e. ‘give’)*
Or, dare I say,
You’re expected to contribute through consuming.

The result of this
This could be seen as
A zero-sum game:
Economy vs environment.
If you don’t buy, the economy suffers
If you do buy, the planet suffers
(…though this largely depends on how/what you consume, I suppose).

article about consumerism - black and white construction site
Photo by Joko_Narimo (Pixabay)

And it creates another issue.
An ‘all take, no give’ approach to existence
Which is existentially bankrupt.
It’s tied to a crisis of meaning
That I think has something do with
Why the people who have so much
Are often so unhappy.

We have a class of hard-working people
Who feel that their work has no meaning
But who keep working anyway
Because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

Like many of us
These people want to contribute
They want to give
They want to be part of something meaningful
But feel that they can’t
Because the onus and the pull
Is towards consumption.
And the fact that they’re all so fucking busy
All of the fucking time.
Keeping it all going.

article about consumerism - black and white wood pallets
Photo by sagesolar

Sure, there are transcendent moments
And exceptions to the routine:
Raising a child
Perhaps volunteering in one’s limited free time
Things like that.
But these are mere brief interludes
In the perennial workday.

And much of this, I think,
Comes down to this idea that everyone’s a ‘consumer’
Not a ‘contributor’, or a ‘citizen’.

You give so much of your time and energy
And you want something back for it in return.
But when you sell off
Too much of your time and your energy
You come to realise that
There’s not enough money in the world to justify what you’ve done.
And you can’t get it back.

And maybe by this point
You don’t have anything left to give anyway.

This is what ‘being’ a consumer has done to you.

*with the exception, perhaps, of making your tax contributions

Cover photo by anokarina

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