Have you watched Ethos yet? If you haven’t, please do.
It’s a short documentary film that shows how unregulated corporate power affect politics. It shows how media is designed to control our buying habits to drive the economy. It shows how consumerism drives the push for more resources, exhausting our local resources, which later provides the excuse for nations to seek resources elsewhere (think: military action, foreign intervention).
One scenario that scares me is this: In the next forty years, population will increase by another two billion people. If consumerism is to increase with people demanding more stuff and throwing away still-usable stuff to buy new stuff mostly because of ubiquitous advertising, there will be a point when the resources available won’t be enough to supply the demand. And, we will definitely see this time. In fact, we already see it in the rising meat prices in China.
So, the question is who will end up living the good life (where we can get anything we want) and who will not? Will the first world countries who pledge wars on resource-rich third-world countries be the ones who will prevail in this situation?
The film asked us to be wiser consumers. To buy less stuff, to support socially responsible corporations, to boycott the ones who are not, and to opt for a chemical-free household and diet. More tips are highlighted in the documentary website.
Living in Singapore where one can constantly find construction sites for new shopping malls, I wish that society would learn to be less materialistic. This little nation is so wealthy, but at the same time, I find that it demands so much from its people. More people work longer hours in the office and more of them, starved from meaningful social connections, seek happiness in a more material sense. Here, just like any other large cities worldwide, psychologically drained people are further drowned by advertisements that glorify consumerism. Here, just like elsewhere, people are increasingly resorting to buying stuff for instant gratification.
I know this post may sound preachy, but it is something that needs to be said. It’s not that we should not buy anything, but it’s that we should be thinking consumers. We alone control our purchasing habits. We should fight this urge to buy something new, something fashionable, or something that we don’t actually want. But, I’ll leave it up to you to decide on your next course of action. A food for thought here: Do you actually need to buy new clothes every week? Do you actually need to replace that phone you bought six months ago with a new, slightly improved one?
Personally, I am surprised that the social media is slow in publicizing this film. It’s been more than a year since its release, but I hear only a trickle, if at all, about it. I hope those involved in making the documentary will continue their fight to spread the news and I hope people won’t forget that each action has a reaction. Whether it’s a desired reaction or undesired consequence depends on you and me.
- The Top 10 Food Documentaries You Can’t Afford to Miss (thegoodhuman.com)
- Consumerism and its antisocial effects can be turned on — or off (eurekalert.org)
- Resisting Materialism (thesituationist.wordpress.com)
- This Water, This Iphone, This Mercedes Benz – Are we too materialistic? (heygirlwhatyoudoing.wordpress.com)
- Professor Irvine on consumerism & Stoicism (spacecityskeptics.wordpress.com)