Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Jessica and how I didn't buy anything today

It may sound a bit odd, but you probably buy something every single day of the week; there are very few days of a full year where people like you and me buy absolutely nothing.

I am pulling off a day like this right now, and I can honestly admit that it is pretty hard. But I’ll get through it; I just have to finally arrive home, and isolate myself from all sources of potential spontaneous consumerism.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that consuming everyday is bad. On the contrary, a good coffee in the morning is an investment with a much higher return than the faraminous five bucks that evil Starbucks charges. And I have to be realistic here, once life grabs you by the balls, there are some shopping deeds that can not be avoided: gas to get to work, food to make it trough the day and tons of other little yet fundamental needs.

My situation, and that of millions of other students, is a bit different though. I can go through my day using only public transport, I have time to spare and thus can make bad ass lunches (by which I mean large and nutritious), and most importantly I don’t have that much money to spend in the first place.

I can thus afford to live through a buy nothing day on a regular basis (strange way to use the word afford, I guess consumerism has slipped in every aspect of my persona, even the anti-consumerism one). And it feels good; it has a cleaning effect, not on my body and mind, but on my perception of my place in society and my relation and dependence to it.

Basically, I feel like I am talking a small (very small) step backwards, away from the ranks of the social battalion in which I have inserted myself, mostly because of the need to survive and lead a normal life (an achievement which is determined by the opinion of my peers in my battalion).

This small step allows me to take a break and look around. Observe, feel, experiment anew a city and life that I know all too well. As simple as it may sound, a buy nothing day boils down to getting away from the everyday routine. I want the newspaper, well I can’t get it; I have to either find a free media or find a way of getting my favourite paper free. I need to eat, well I actually have to spend the time cooking, and I might as well prepare something new, and while I am at it, why not make it healthy.

Consuming has become a passe-temps (an expression in French used for the word hobby or literally, an activity to pass the time). On a regular day, being bored can very easily be cured by buying something, and using the new acquisition to occupy oneself during those dull moments.

Today I had to stay outside on the grass, bathing in the sun, while reading. Granted, some people do that all the time, but unfortunately, a huge portion of people never or almost-never do that. I believe generalizing the buy nothing day will push people to look for alternatives to their brain-numbing routine, alternatives that can be found all around us, that stare us in the eyes daily, but that we ignore all too casually.

I started thinking about all this non-sense while watching an episode of Newlyweds. Jessica Simpson has an unbelievable addiction to shopping. It is much worse than that of most of drug addicts, as she can spend in the tens of thousands of dollars in a day.

And her shopping dependence is financed and allowed to exist only because of the blind consumerism, the same addiction that she has, but of millions of schmoks (read regular people like me). An addiction lived out at a small scale, yet adding up to enough to allow her to buy the best designer clothes, and make her even more beautiful, making us buy even more of stuff with her pretty face slapped on it, making her buy even more leather accessories… and so it goes.

I will be honest, Jessica is hot; she emanates femininity and sexuality. But she has a big problem, and worst, she plays along in a game that negatively influences millions of teens and adults. She has become a mass consumption product herself. I am wondering what is going to happen when she outlives her shelf-life? Just as she probably doesn’t buy last summer’s fashion because it is out-of-date, one day people will stop buying into her image. I just hope that she is saving some money for these dog days, and has a close psychologist at hand to help her cope with the probable loss of popularity and its devastating impact.

is this article about how you didnt buy anything or about jessica simpson and her eventual depressions in a case people stop consuming her "art"? did you have to insert the name of that conspicuous "star" just to make more people consume the article on your blog? I think so...
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