08 November 2006 by Published in: in my life No comments yet

Dear consumerist American culture of the 21st century and megamedia emporium:

I appear to be drifting away from you a little each day. We were much closer once. I know that you spent a lot of time enchanting me and trying to make me interested in the things and experiences you proffer. I can even remember when I was a target demographic! I know that there could be more between us, but it seems like you aren’t even trying anymore. I know I’m no longer as young as I once was, nor as sexy, nor as overflowing with expendable wealth but you too, my dear, offer me less and less that I desire.

Sometimes I think you don’t even know me. Do you realize I drink no soft drinks, no coffee, no beer? That I don’t consume fast food? I don’t purchase jewelry, wear makeup only six or eight times a year, and don’t follow fashion. I see fewer than a dozen movies in the theater annually. So far this year, I have been to two, so you’re doing even worse than usual. Last year I rousted myself enough to go to a concert, which I enjoyed, but this year the time and expense did not seem worth it. I don’t want to travel in your airplanes and wrestle with the security theater at your airports, and decided against at least one trip because of that. When I bothered to become interested in something on television, Deadwood, you cancelled it. Your other television offerings seem insipid and pointless – to be generous – and not worth my time. People think I hate tv, but I don’t, I just don’t care for most of what’s on it. Remember when you had shows like Buffy? I watched that all the time. I even thought about it when it wasn’t on, and it made me smile, and my enjoyment far exceeded the minutes I spent watching it. The only sport I’m interested in is hockey, which you barely deign to acknowledge as a sport being played in this country. I don’t want to watch the superbowl, nay, not even for the commercials or for the chance of seeing some pop star’s nipple. Really, are we that far out of sync? Has it been so long since you understood me? I rarely buy clothes, and the main thing I want to know when I do buy clothes – whether they were produced for fair pay in safe working conditions – you won’t even bother to tell me. You ask me if I want more credit cards, but I don’t. You recommend I get another vehicle, but I have no interest in doing so, and I’m surprised you think I’d want to. I have been known to be interested in gadgets from time to time, but I think you sharply overestimate the number of electronic knickknacks I’m willing to carry around, learn to cope with and use. The last video game console I bought was in 2001, and though I love it and use it, you haven’t convinced me I need anything else. I can’t even be bothered with any new games for it! I just play the ones I already have. My ipod is almost three years old and my digital camera almost five. Even your Lego sets seem subpar, failing to provoke interest from me this year. Have you nothing to offer me?

On the rare occasions when I view or hear commercials, those little love notes you send me, I feel like a third wheel. None of that stuff is for me. None of those people are talking to me. Who is it you are selling that multitude of things to? It must be someone, because I see more and more stores everywhere I look. You seem to stay in business, and even do well enough to expand, but I don’t see how if you treat everyone as poorly as you do me. Sometimes I sigh when the new buildings go up. Do we really need another Target? Another Bed, Bath and Beyond? Another Wal-greens? Another big box anything? I’d rather have the patch of green and the trees than the cancerous infestation of yet another shrine to consumption.

When I think about the number of people you hired to craft those missives you broadcast, how much you paid them, how hard they worked to make their appeal perfect…well, it makes me a little sad. All that energy spent, and it’s leaving me cold. Unhappy. Unwilling to open my wallet or my heart.

Why is that? It’s not like there aren’t things I like: books, music, chocolate, tea, boxes, paper, pens, organizing stuff. I could go on. It’s not like I’m a fringe luddite deliberately striking a blow against materialism. I’m just a regular Jane. So why is that you keep missing the mark with me? How come everything you’re pushing looks like it’s for people dumber than I am or richer than I am or who have way more free time than I do? How many others are you leaving stranded, just like me?

I don’t believe we have to be strangers. Do you? And secretly, honey, I think that you need me more than I need you. No, I’m not claiming that you really need me, the individual, but I think your engine doesn’t go without me, the consumer. It’s not a threat; it’s reality. I’m checking your stores, even your online ones, less frequently. Shopping is a chore, a drudgery, which I avoid at all costs. I hang out in parks and libraries when I could be consuming and buying. I go for walks. Whenever anyone asks me if I’ve seen that funny commerical, my answer is always no. I’m not feeling your absence from my life. I keep thinking of the beauty of less clutter in my life : visual, mental, auditory. If you want me to stay in touch, you’re going to have to try harder to provide meaningful things and experiences. Things and experiences as meaningful as the wind in the trees and the sun on my face. And you know what? You don’t get the benefit of the doubt anymore. I’m not going to spend the money to evaluate whether what you’re selling is worthwhile. I have to know beforehand that it’s going to be worth it, or I won’t participate.

I’m sorry that it’s come to this. I hate ultimatums. Still, you haven’t really been listening to anything else I’ve said, have you?

With a hopeful and idealistic heart,


Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress