-from the Kid Power marketing conference
This week, the reading for my Environmental Ethics course has been focused on consumption and the consumer culture and, on the flip side, voluntary simplicity the the costs of materialism on individuals and society. This is a topic near and dear to me, and one that I struggle with regularly. I do want to live more simply, in many ways, but there are things I don't want to give up -- travel, for example, or my computer. Not that voluntary simplicity demands that I give these things up; it's voluntary, after all, and every little bit counts.
A lot of research has been done recently on quality of life and its relationship to standard of living. As chronicled in the book Bowling Alone, social capital in the US has been declining pretty steadily since the 1950s, and it seems to be correlated with the increasing materialism of society during that time.
Things don't make us happy. This is obvious. It's not even new. But stepping back from that and seeing that having too many things, or desiring too many things, can have a cost on our happiness and well-being is another move. It's also not new, but I want to keep it near the forefront of my thinking, because what I want is quality of life, not quantity of stuff, and holding that as a central tenet in approaching life requires constant tending against the influence of marketing, materialism, and social expectations.
I'd really love to find a job working to increase social capital of a community or city. I wonder if that sort of thing is happening around here?
It didn't say anything I didn't know already, in general terms, but I found the documentary "Affluenza" to be a useful way of tying lots of this stuff together. You can find it in six parts on youtube: