Living to Consume or Consuming to Live?

Last night I went to a lecture given by Valerie Hiebert, PH.D, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Providence University College. Her lecture was very captivating as she took us through the history of moving from a culture of producing to a culture of consuming. She discussed consuming as an organizational principle and stressed that we need to think about our choices and what are we controlling.


Hiebert’s Guide

 One of the sore spots she talked about was the exploitation of developmental vulnerability in children. Advertising firms hire out children developmental sociologists in order to better market to children. They play on children’s need for significance and need to belong (but don’t we all feel that way sometimes). Children are concrete thinkers, when they see an ad they can not make the leap to know that the advertisement is that, merely a ploy to get you to buy something. When an advertisement says something, the children believes it to be true, unless told otherwise.

Advertising has now become a culture of selling values and attaching that value to a product. It either offers this idea of a “good life” or this idea of “the body perfect.” Hiebert discussed that actually these products produce the opposite effect, one get’s to the “good life” of retirement and finds themselves bored, and one find’s that they can never achieve “the body perfect” because our idea of perfect is consistently changing based on trends.

Are you starting to feel that you are living to consume? Is there must be a simpler solution to living? You may fall into one or more categories that Hiebert laid out:

1. Financial and Stress Management: less out of control spending to decrease financial deficit.
2. Social and Ecological Justice: restoring and sustaining the earth and increasing relational care for the neighbour.
3. Spirituality: our generation is seeking out truth and meaning to life, and simpler living is trans-denominational.
Here is your new simplified mantra:

“Consume less, care more”

You don’t need to jump in the deep end and start living in the woods away from society. It’s all about making small changes that you can do for the rest of your life. Start aligning your beliefs with your behaviours and work at bridging the gap. Just start with one thing from Hiebert’s list and go from there.

Happy Living!