This past week, I came face to face with rampant consumerism. I spent about four hours at the mall as I waited, yet again, for my car to get repaired. Two floors of stores, a fairly typical spot for America, filled with people spending money. I suppose this is a good thing as far as the recession goes, but I couldn’t help getting annoyed. Perhaps I was jealous – I wasn’t there to buy anything, and I don’t have extra cash to toss around. Or perhaps it was the crowds of people bumping into me with their bags full of stuff.
The place, like all malls and stores, are designed to get people to spend money and to enjoy themselves as they do so. The displays are set up to draw you in, the salespeople are trained to remind you of the current deals and sales, and the rate of fashion and style changes so quickly that there is always something new and more desirable around the corner.
Like when I walked into the Apple store. I purchased my new lovely Mac laptop just about a month ago, on which I happily type away at this very moment, and as a teacher, I got a free iPod touch. A few weeks after that, the new iPod touch came out. They rebuilt it. They had the technology. They made it better, stronger, faster. And put a camera in it!
Ignoring the fact that I had lived very happily (1) without an ipod, then (2) with an ipod without a touch screen and now (3) without an ipod with a camera, I coveted the new one. Mine, that I had loved for its shininess, its wi-fi capability, and its coloring apps to entertain my niece, was second best.
I spend time wandering around the store, casting long wistful looks at all the prettiness, and then duh! the realization that I don’t need or really want (read can’t afford) any new gadgets.
I have been at that mall before with the intent of buying new things – new clothes for work or to work out in, new shoes for just about anything and books. The rush of having something new, being able to claim it as my own, whether I really needed it or not, can be very satisfying.
But this time, I resisted the draw for anything new, even in the bookstore. So I didn’t help with the economy, I mean even my car repair was done for free, but I did get to go home with the confirmation that perhaps I was growing up a bit, I was no longer quite so attracted and drawn in by the allure of getting new clothes and new stuff. Though I may still need to work on my gadget desires.