Yesterday at lunch, I had a most interesting conversation with my husband. Recently, our son discovered a movie based on a novel from the 1980s, American Psycho. If you ignore the "psycho" portions, the movie was pretty accurate about the shallowness of the 80s. My son was laughing about the characters' obsessions with having the best business card, getting reservations at the most exclusive restaurant, and wearing the right clothes. I told him that the 80s really was about status - what you wore, what you drove, how you entertained.
Talking to my husband about it, I said the 80s was all about quality, whereas in the present day, it's all about quantity, i.e. consumerism. While there was a lot wrong with the 80s, I do think in some ways we had it right. We really should be concerned with purchasing quality items that endure the test of time. It's much better to have a few quality items that you enjoy for years to come, than to purchase a lot of cheap goods that are thrown away after a few uses. The problem with the 80s was that we bought items to impress others.
Today, however, we don't care at all about quality. It's all about price and getting more, more, more. Crass consumerism is the new way to impress friends and neighbors. We tell ourselves that we have a lot of really good stuff and we that we've saved lots of money in the process. The sad thing is that we really don't save money in the end. We find ourselves spending even more money to replace the items that didn't last. And for the few items that do last, we end up having them clutter our homes or putting them in storage because we really didn't need them in the first place. We were just seduced by low prices and shiny products.
Although we need to avoid trying to impress our friends and neighbors, I would like to see us get back to caring about spending our limited dollars on quality rather than quantity. By doing so, we simplify our lives, save money, and reduce our impact on the planet.