Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Today's Ramble - 12/06/06

If over-consumption leads to unhappiness, and our consumption habits are tied to our perception of "the good life", how can we break this pattern? Obviously, awareness is the first step. We need to break down these associations and immunize ourselves against what Juliet Schor calls "symbolic spending triggers". If there is something that we really want but don't actually need, there is a good chance that a recurring symbolic fantasy is attached to it. Laying bare the fantasy illuminates the often tenuous link between the product and the dream, thereby reducing the power that the object has over us. When identity (I need that designer wardrobe for my prestigious job) and consumption are linked, getting too deliberate (i.e. being aware of the cause of the desire) spoils the symbolism. When we take it a step further and really analyze the cost of the item in terms of how much time we need to work to earn it, the item begins to further lose its appeal.

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