I love stumbling across something random on Netflix and this week I just so happened to stumble across Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things which definitely got me thinking.
Now, I’m not a minimalist at all nor am I a hoarder – for one I’m not a big shopping fan – but the documentary did raise some interesting points about whether or not, over a number of decades being exposed to some fairly insidious advertising techniques, we have collectively and inadvertently bought into a culture of compulsive consumerism.
One of the questions it was suggested to ask yourself was if the goods you are buying are adding value to your life. If they are great, purchase them but essentially, it’s just adding a moment of mindfulness before getting sucked into the next fashion fad and spending for the sake of spending.
I won’t say too much more about the programme as I’d rather people watch it themselves and make their own minds up or head over to the website of the people behind the programme and book:
So, Have We All Been Brainwashed?
Probably – who hasn’t even just once in their lives purchased something, not because it added real value to our lives, but because of the supposed prestige that came along with wearing/owning that item.
I came from a really disadvantaged background where money was very tight – always. It never bothered me until I got to high school and the fact that I was bullied on a daily basis for living in social housing and not having the “right” trainers or clothes with the most fashionable label. My first job was as a paper-girl at 13 (without a bike!) where I trudged the streets for a measly £5.00 per week 6-days a week getting up at 6 am. I knew as soon as I got that job what I was going to buy when I’d saved up enough money – a pair of Adidas trainers. It took me 5 weeks to buy a super discounted pair but I still remember how proud I was when I got those trainers.
Did it stop the bullying? No, the damage was already done but I don’t blame the children who bullied me anymore. They were brainwashed and victims themselves of a culture that celebrates “things” over “people”.
Can We Change the Compulsive Consumer Culture?
Definitely – I think the tide is already turning. So many of us now are realising that we were duped. We bought all the wonderful make-up, clothes, technology, cars, holidays, etc but we still feel unfulfilled. What’s that all about?
I’ve come across so many people recently who have made the decision to turn inwards towards themselves, as well as reconnecting with other people rather than things, and in doing so have found genuine peace and happiness. Once that peace is discovered, the compulsive consumer illusion tends to shatter irrevocably pretty quickly.
It doesn’t mean that we have to live like hermits and give up all our belongings, just a priority re-adjustment on what’s really important and brings more lasting contentment. It also doesn’t mean that we’ll never be sad, angry, hurt, confused or feel unfulfilled at times – it’s about facing those feelings and not quashing those emotions with short-lived and shallow distractions.
Having said all that, this is all just my take on our current culture tendencies, as inspired by the documentary and my own observations. Give the documentary a try yourself and let me know what you think in the comments 🙂