The monster of consumerism and how it disconnects us from us our true selves.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Holiday Shopping. At this time of year, the monster of consumerism can’t be escaped. Whatever digital content we access, whenever we turn on the TV, radio, or open a print publication, we’re slammed with messages to buy, buy, buy! And immediately! Because if we don’t, this once-in-a-lifetime saving will be gone, and our lives will remain empty and pathetic!
During the pandemic, many people, myself included, came to realise we don’t need as much stuff as we think we do. As retailers scrambled to find ways to serve their house-bound customers, many of us did without our comfort buys for extended periods, and discovered we could actually survive without the trimmings. Donations to goodwill surged during lockdown. Confined to their homes, people became acutely aware of the excess surrounding them; items they didn’t use, or need, or want. The barrage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday ads are laced with fear-based tactics manipulating us into believing are lives shrivel with lack. Without X, Y, or Z product, can we truly be happy? Will we honestly be content? The answer is yes. What are landfills but the graveyard of unfulfilled promises, excess, and waste.
I’m not against an honest-to-goodness bargain. The thrill of knowing I got a really good deal on a purchase is very satisfying. But there’s a world of difference between buying with discretion and a purchase made under duress. Amongst all the clamour this year, I heard one voice of wisdom speak out. When you decide to buy something, wait 72 hours before actually making the purchase. The majority of purchases parked in a basket for three days are never bought. Once disconnected from the mindset of panic/lack/fear instilled by the retailers, shoppers approach the purchase with logic, and realise they don’t actually need the item. (And it’s likely the price was jacked up in advance, meaning the consumer would have paid full price, anyway.)
Another aspect of the consumerism machine at this time of year, is how small businesses are crushed beneath the heels of retailer giants. Small business owners often design, create, produce, wrap, and ship their products. They are personally responsible for every moment of the products inception and creation. When you support a small business, you’re helping a person who truly appreciates your custom. Your purchase pays bills, supports childcare, puts food on a table, clothes on a back, and so much more. Yes, you may pay a little more than a similar product found on a retail giant’s website, but whose pocket would you rather see lined? A multi-national with profits in the billions, or a sole proprietor who put their heart and soul into crafting your product or creating a service?
Aside from the obvious needs of food, warmth, and protection, the one thing humans thrive upon is love, in all its forms. If you believe your life is lacking, fulfilment won’t be found in a checkout basket. The dopamine and endorphin rush may briefly satisfy you, but once it trickles away, the sense of need you hoped to banish, returns.
Fulfilment begins at soul level. Learn to feed your heart and soul with simplicity, not stuff. A walk in nature, dipping your toes in water, an hour strolling through a gallery, or museum. Listening to the crunch of leaves underfoot, feeling the sensation of wrapping cold fingers around a hot mug, inhaling the scent of freshly laundered sheets. Enjoying the warmth of a hug from a loved one, the melody in a child’s laugh, the comfort and ease of a rambling conversation with a friend. If you feel your life is lacking, don’t ignore that deep ache. Sit with it. Ask yourself hard questions. Write down your answers. Pour your heart onto the page and allow the hidden truth to rise. Pull a few tarot or oracle cards. Consider their message and how you can take action.
This holiday season, pause before you buy. Listen to your intuition. What do you truly need fulfilled? Chances are, the answer lies somewhere far removed from the ‘Buy Now’ button.