Archive for the ‘consumerism’ Category

This is one of those days where suddenly it just shows me again how I struggle with my place in faith and my place and view of modern UK society.

If you might be in America reading this, you may think ‘what’s the problem?’ (We tend to often percieve Americans as being less obsessed with class and the class system over there). Yes again, I find where I am, what I am, and how I am a problem. Should I?

I should be who I think I am, who I feel I should be right? The difficult problems is often that I have family and friends who live life a certain way, or do not feel so strongly about certain issues but these things are in me. My own mind and thoughts do regularly think about how and why we have so many shops which sell so many things that we just do not need, such rediculously expensive things. There is a limit to what we need, what we use and we seem to gladly go way far past that limit without much thought about the ethics of what we are purchasing and why.

I am not against material posessions, but extreme gratuitous consumerism does make me almost feel actually sick inside. When I just happen to be aware of the many countries globably and even towns and cities in this country which struggle to just eat, keep a roof over heat, find clean water, electricity-the basics-I feel then very sad and frustrated.

This does relate to my attempt at Christian faith in 2015. Just how many churches are run by and filled with mostly middle-class members? This is not me having a go at the middle-class specifically, but just look at how few working class even consider stepping anywhere near a church today. Why is that do you think?

I have a sort of middle-class education but remain mostly working class at this point. I will not get too specific with politics here, that is not my focus. I simply believe that Jesus would not have been too happy with this endless rampant materialism, almost material worship of products, lifestyles, social status and relentless consumerism.

The problem then is that I sense that the majority of people I meet in some of the churches I visit at times, do not begin to¬† consider any of this or just are middle-class and simply accept the consumerism and materialism where it is at as a ‘good balance of the economy’. Hmmm, kind of don’t think that makes much sense…

Is it the generation that I come from? How many from the last couple of decades seeking faith have been working class, recieving middle-class eductaion and then come to this social and spiritual conundrum? Not enough it seems.

Okay, relax the title of this blog is not my Christmas list and it was not what I was trying to get on the just recently passed ‘Black Friday’. Oh yes, what a terrible, horrible day that turned out to be over here in the UK. Is it always that bad in the US?

I am sure not all Americans go stark raving nuts like that, climbing over each other, shouting and arguing with each other over who grabbed the tv/Ipad/Hoover first etc. but that was just crazy. I myself thankfully was at work, never even considered lining up early in the morning outside a big chain store to get some questionable ‘bargain’ deals. Should I have done so? Would it have been worth the trauma?

I do not want to make myself out to seem so totally perfect and level-headed because I had some restraint and stayed well away from the shopping malls and department stores on Friday. You see, I think that I can understand that some people may have gone along because despite what some confused politicians in the UK seem to think, the recession is not totally over yet, or at least the money is not finally trickling down across all areas of society and many are still struggling and will for time to come. So this means that some people may have decided to take up the dubious ‘Black Friday’ offer in order to get the Christmas presents their loved ones may be in need of or desire.

There are various sides to this day of sales and so-called bargains…were shops and retailers taking advantage of naive consumers? Were they not well enough prepared with security? Was it all a disgusting con, a lie and exploiting of the lower classes?

Soon after and during the day, there were scenes on the national news of the crazed masses fighting and arguing over televisions, other gadgets and more. Reports were appearing of people around the country hurt, injured, attacked for these bargains in various shops and stores. What does they say about the British public? Just what will we do for material possessions, the latest or most popular phones, tv’s, gadgets? Why do we need these things so badly (or think that we do)?

Should a large amount of blame be directed at advertising and marketing-the television and news media hype of the day before it arrived? Let’s be honest here, we have a capitalist system here, in the West, in the U.S. and U.K. We have serious economic problems, class and wealth distribution issues. Shops, stores, shopping malls and traders are concerned that they will not make enough profit over the Christmas period, and so we took up this handy event from our friends in America. Well, that you very much indeed.

Thankfully, there were very many serious, and not so serious protests and campaigns against ‘Black Friday’ on the day, the biggest known as ‘Buy Nothing Day’, and many people in cities here and in the U.S. dressed up and ‘consumer’ zombies walking through the streets, mocking the mindless purchasing madness. Now also we have seen more images and footage on television and in the news, and at least some of us are questioning why we went along with it at all, and feeling a little shame at the whole experience.

Are we mindless consumers, just continually craving whatever is advertised to us in the news, magazines, on screens even if we really don’t need those things? Are we just following our friends and peers, desperate to keep up with the latest trends, gadgets and hoping not to seem like we are ‘out of touch’ with modern life?

Was it actually good for our economy, boosting income and sales? Did it all dirty our innocent little souls a bit more?

Well, it will be another year until we have to face such an event once more. Before then, maybe think about what you can give and not get….