21-Day Writing Challenge Day 18 – Consumerism

Some people are seemingly oblivious that there is a world out there, and that far from everybody can afford the same kind of easy and comfortable life.

It sounds really obvious but it was made very clear to me when I went to see a friend this weekend. Not because of her, but because we went out to run some errands. On a Saturday. Right after Black Friday, in the month leading up to Christmas.

To see everybody just focused on buying things they don’t need without seemingly questioning any of it actually shocked me. And in a way made me envious. I wish I could turn my concern for the rest of the world off sometimes. Not wonder how my decisions are affecting other people.

They seemed to simply go along with their lives. The same routine they’ve had for years. Repeating the same habits they had seen growing up. I recognized my old self in them and I think that’s what shocked me the most. To see that I used to be exactly like this. I would go to the store on Saturdays and buy stuff I didn’t need. And then when Black Friday or Cyber Monday would come around, I would also be shopping for deals on things I didn’t even really need or want but managed to convince myself were essential.

I would follow the Christmas traditions and put up decorations, make fruitcake and buy gifts for people. I’m not saying that there’s something wrong with tradition, putting up decorations or making fruitcakes, but for a long time, I never questioned my motives for doing all of this. I would not even stop and ask myself why I was still buying into the whole Christmas things if I didn’t believe in religion.

I simply went with the flow, believing I needed something new to make me feel better. Trying to find the perfect gift for people who also happened to already have absolutely everything they could possibly need.

I find it fascinating, crazy and scary to see just how much we believe everything we are told. It doesn’t matter what country we are coming from or what religion was most present while growing up. We simply believe what we were told from the start. Rarely do we question why our parents held those belief and if there’s any truth to them.

Going with the flow is a lot easier than starting to objectively look into our habits.

For every single thing we buy, someone else had to be making it. Whether it’s fruits and vegetables, clothes or decorations, the fact that we can buy things means it was most likely made at someone else expense.

What does it actually matter that we wear the same clothes every few days? Does that make me less of a ”good” human if I do not have a closet full of fabric I never wear? In a house filled with plenty of things, I do not even like?

I’m still filled with that cultural default of always wanting more. Following the American Dream. Even when I’m packing my backpack, I find it really hard to limit myself to what I actually need to bring with me. What if I need a more formal dress? Or formal shoes? It’s like I forget that if I really need that particular thing there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be able to buy it, but there’s no reason at the moment for me to be carrying all of it with me.

I do not own much by Canadian standards, but I still fall for the same consumerism shit as everybody else at times. It’s very hard to be consciously making different choices. But mostly to be aware of my decision-making process. At times it feels like we are made to think we do not need our own opinion or our own preferences. If we listen, people and ads will tell us exactly what we need and when we need it.

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