The Story of Stuff: Why We Shop

20 May

Why we are constantly buying things: The Story of Stuff

Planned obsolescence: Things are created to break down or become incompatible with our surroundings. They are designed for the dump. From computers, mops, dvd players there is always a newer version coming out that is going to make your current model irrelevant in a short time.
Perceived obsolescence: Producers shift their design from year to year to cause people to want to keep up with their neighbor. They change the way that stuff looks. So if you don’t contribute to a shopping economy you will look out of touch. Women, are you wearing fat heels in a skinny heel year? You’re out of touch…go shopping. We see 3,000 advertisements every day which all are created to remind us that we are incomplete because we are missing this product.

So we are working harder than ever. We have less leisure time than we ever have had in history. So what do we do with our leisure time? We watch TV and shop.

Suddenly a gospel in which Jesus says, “Look at the grass as it is covered with the lilies of the field. If God has clothed them, won’t he also clothe you,” doesn’t look so bad. A God who doesn’t use planned or perceived obsolescence definitely offers me something that a consumer culture can’t. And I have a feeling that if you found yourself in the midst of this kingdom your leisure time wouldn’t be spent watching TV and shopping.

I’m guessing if we no longer identified with a consumer culture the alternative would be to enter a serving or sacrificial culture. I’m guessing because I haven’t really seen a group of people who aren’t identified by the things they want to buy.


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