Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Sirens of Consumerism

I blog quite a bit about living a simple, sustainable life.  But I'm not immune to the lure of consumerism.  In the United States and the rest of the "Western" world, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements and other enticements that are designed to reach the deepest recesses of our minds through psychological manipulation.

I liken the culture of consumerism to the call of the mythic Sirens.  In Greek mythology, the Sirens were creatures with beautiful voices that would lure sailors to their death.  Their songs were irresistible and sailors would risk crashing their ships on the rocks in order to hear them.  Walter Copland Perry, a British writer, concluded that "their song, though irresistibly sweet, was no less sad than sweet, and lapped both body and soul in a fatal lethargy, the forerunner of death and corruption."

Consumerism (and, more specifically, shopping) is akin to the sirens.  I, too, am seduced by the message of the marketeers.  I hear them calling me, telling me I can be more beautiful, more feminine, more glamorous, if only I buy their products.  The flash and glitz catch my eye - there's a new style or color or fabric that is the must-have of the season.   I forget all that I stand for, all the sweatshops and suffering and exploitation behind the product, and how last year's trends are now resting at the bottom of countless landfills.  I grab a handful of hangers and head to the dressing room.  Yes, the marketeers are right.  I must have a new outfit; it will complete me, make me something I'm not...yet.  I head to the cash register, plastic card in hand, already anticipating the thrill of wearing my new clothes.  It's then that I realize, I have fallen into that fatal lethargy, I've crashed on the rocks, and the sirens have won.


Shona~ LALA dex press said...

I will say that I have done some backsliding since our challegnge this time last year (WOW! that was a year ago! well, almost, we started the 1st day of summer). Anyway, I've found myself needing little pick-me-ups. It's not excessive by any means, but a lot of it is centered around shedding my old life & changing my wardrobe (all thrift store purchases of course).

Cherie said...

Shona, can't believe it has almost been one year. I do find myself drifting towards consumerism as times - despite avoiding television and magazines - it is hard to get away from the marketeers. I think I'm on track again after buying a few things at an outlet mall and the regular mall. I did pick up something at a consignment shop so didn't feel too bad about that.