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December 08, 2003

Me-consumerism and social anguish 

Seeing as I get just the one visitor to my blog each day, here's is a blog that I have just blogged on my blog... !

A piece in Saturday’s Guardian about how marketers are increasingly “dictating social norms” and the subsequent growth of the selfish society grabbed my attention at the weekend:

We live in a culture where the primacy of the self and its satisfactions is everything. We are bombarded with messages telling us that we should have what we want because we're worth it. As consumers, we are kings. We know that we have rights, that brands seek our favour; that as long as we can pay, we feel powerful. We like that sensation. It is seductive because it is so at odds with the reality of the rest of our lives. As workers and producers we are under more pressure and feel more insecure than ever before. Our private lives are increasingly unpredictable; our financial futures uncertain. There is no general respect for mundane lives, well lived, in a popular culture that celebrates wealth, beauty, celebrity, notoriety and youth. Most of us cannot feel confident about our worth and about the regard in which we are held.

Now it could be argued that this lack of self-worth and the anguish people suffer when faced with their “mundane” existential, reality is not a new pronouncement, not wishing to name any names.

But maybe there is a truth in a growing fear or anguish – one that people face when they are unable to meet the necessary consumption or lifestyle norms that are now all too frequently dictated to us by the market and by brands that increaingly act as critical, cultural signifiers to the status of our inner well-being?

Unable to live up to the market's expectations of us, we just aspire permanently (surely, a new name for an underarm deodorant there?!) until the next wave of consumerism awashes us in a new set of dreams and goals. And, as the article states, this permanent aspiration leads us fundamentally into selfish behaviours, where social obligations are viewed as contracts, where one party seeks to gain at the others expense rather than build empathy, respect and consideration through authentic relationships...
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