An un­con­scious con­sumer

Consumer Voice - - Editor's Voice -

These are strange times. By the time you start en­joy­ing your pos­sess­ing the coolest, new­est and best thing that can be bought by pay­ing money – be it a phone, a pair of shoes, a car, a re­frig­er­a­tor, an oven, or a wash­ing ma­chine – you get to know that a new some­thing or a newer ver­sion of your al­ready ‘old’ pos­ses­sion has just come out. And you will never be happy un­less you buy it. If you have those ad­di­tional ru­pees to spend, you do not mind buy­ing that new some­thing. This phe­nom­e­non un­der­lies con­sumerism.

I re­cently read about this new wave called ‘low­sumerism’. A group of sup­pos­edly con­scious peo­ple are ad­vo­cat­ing buy­ing only what we re­ally need and be­ing con­scious of the im­pact of our pur­chases on the planet. I thought over this con­cept and be­came con­vinced that be­fore be­gin­ning to stop over-con­sum­ing and start­ing cam­paigns around the same, we should first ask our­selves why we are over-con­sum­ing in the first place. (Also, if there’s enough space in the mind, do think about the im­pact of our over­con­sump­tion on those who do not have the means but live with equal de­sires).

To un­der­stand why we are so prone to con­sum­ing so much – un­like any other liv­ing be­ing – we have to first un­der­stand hu­man na­ture and the course of its de­vel­op­ment. I Googled a bit on the sub­ject and found an­swers to some of my queries in our DNA, which con­tains both nega­tive and pos­i­tive el­e­ments. In­hal­ing and ex­hal­ing al­lows for breath­ing, the heart's pump­ing in and push­ing out of blood al­lows for cir­cu­la­tion, male and fe­male com­ple­ment­ing one an­other al­low­ing the con­tin­u­a­tion of our species. These cor­re­la­tions of nega­tive and pos­i­tive are as es­sen­tial as play­ing and rest­ing pat­terns for chil­dren to grow up healthy.

Var­i­ous re­searches I read, in one way or an­other, con­clude that hu­mans have been able to main­tain a bal­ance be­tween the nega­tive and pos­i­tive el­e­ments in all as­pects ex­cept for ‘de­sires’. In most cases, the nega­tive el­e­ment takes over and your de­sire be­comes more im­por­tant than the planet, the so­ci­ety, and ul­ti­mately even you. In­ter­est­ingly, you can your­self see the nega­tive el­e­ments of your de­sires by mak­ing an ef­fort to mea­sure the in­creas­ing lev­els of self-cen­tered­ness, alien­ation, and in­dif­fer­ence in ex­ploit­ing oth­ers for your per­sonal gains.

More­over, your nat­u­ral hu­man in­stinct to stop when you have had enough is over­taken by your need to outdo oth­ers – be stronger, wealth­ier, richer, smarter, and so on – in traits at­tached to your ego. Hence, most of you are per­ma­nently out of bal­ance, in con­stant un­con­scious anx­i­ety, to the point that you con­fuse re­lief (from anx­i­ety) with hap­pi­ness re­ceived from buy­ing some­thing new. This cyclic con­sump­tion keeps you self­cen­tered and un­con­sciously ‘dis­con­nected’ to your race, na­ture and even your­self. Un­for­tu­nately, the ones who do not have enough wealth to buy hap­pi­ness ex­press their bro­ken con­nec­tion in vi­o­lent and ag­gres­sive man­ners. These man­ners are vis­i­ble in road rage, mob vi­o­lence and hate crimes. Re­li­gion-based ter­ror­ism is no dif­fer­ent.

So, what are ‘con­scious’ con­sumers sup­posed to do? It is not easy, but cer­tainly doable. In­stead of im­pos­ing low­sumerism on your­self, you can sim­ply learn to use your de­sires for the com­mon good. Con­sid­er­ing that you as a hu­man be­ing as­pire to be unique, let your unique­ness en­rich com­mu­ni­ties and so­ci­eties. In a so­ci­ety where every­one is look­ing at ma­te­rial abun­dance, try con­tribut­ing by be­ing emo­tion­ally sat­is­fied, by be­ing able to ex­press your­self cre­atively, and by show­cas­ing the strength and vigour that is needed to be­come a ‘giv­ing’ per­son.

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