Weapons of Mass Consumption
Stephen Manderson writes about the compulsion to consume, and why only too much is ever enough... an epic new column on the sickness of society today.
With all the talk about the world leaders we have in place and their potential willingness to trigger a war that could see the end of life as we know it via weapons of mass destruction, we seem to have forgotten about the biggest danger our planet faces. Not weapons of mass destruction, but weapons of mass consumption – us.
More is more.
Only too much is ever enough, and even then, that’s not really enough.
Short, sharp and snappy.
Attention spans are barely long enough to get to the end of this article.
I don’t wanna wait till next week for the next episode, I wanna watch the whole series in one foul Netflix / Amazon Prime / Now TV / Sky box set binge.
Don’t bore me with an album, just release a single every week for the next… forever.
Patience is no longer a virtue.
Immediacy is rife.
I need it, I need it now.
Otherwise it’ll be old.
Things aren’t new for long.
New gets old too quickly, so I’ll be needing the new one. New what? New anything. Whatever is old needs replacing. Is it broken? Nah, it’s just old. Need the new one. Is it business critical? Nah. Just need it. Why? Dunno, just do.
Need more of it, got any? Yep, but you have plenty and it isn’t going to run out any time soon so you can always come back another time… nah, I’ll take more now. I need it. Why? Because… I do.
I’ll have all three colours of those please. Do you have a favourite? Not really, I feel indifferent about all of them. So why are you buying them? Well if I don’t buy them someone else will and then I won’t and my life will end. I mean, it won’t, but you know what I mean right?
Imagine seeing someone wearing them on Instagram knowing that could have been me. They could have been mine.
I’m with the woman of my dreams, I could see myself spending the rest of my life with her! But if I don’t there’s plenty more fish in the sea, or on Instagram, Tinder, Bumble, or if your online social presence deems you worthy enough of passing their screening process, Raya.
All conveyor belts for aesthetic / lifestyle driven lust.
Apple just released the iDoNothing. It doesn’t really do anything, but it’s Apple, and it’s new. Need it.
Where are you off to? To save money in the sales. But isn’t that a paradox? Nobody saves money by spending it.
What coffee would I like? An extra shot double shot latte with vanilla liquor and cream please. And some extra cream.
Shopping at a green grocers, butchers or fishmongers has gone from the norm to a luxury, only afforded to those who live in one of London’s little once working class communities but now middle class villages.
Victoria Park village, Walthamstow village, Brixton village etc. (not to be confused with actual villages).
Deliveroo, Uber Eats, microwave and ready meals have waved bye bye to cooking.
But who has the time to cook?
Can I take your order please? Yea, I’ll have a large Big Mac meal please with a coke. Anything else with that sir? Yea go on then, I’ll have 20 nuggets as well please. With what sauces? Er, ketchup and sweet curry please, actually, chuck a BBQ sauce in there as well please. And will that be all? Er… I’ll tell you what, stick a McFlurry in there and an Apple pie please, sod it, why not. Thank you, please drive forward to the next window.
Indulgence. Over indulgence.
But here’s some food for thought: if we need ‘things’ to make us happy, this suggests we’re unhappy, and can’t be happy, without ‘things’.
Moderation and balance are key.
‘Everything in moderation, even moderation’.
The occasional blow out is fine, but a lot of us seem to enjoy everything in excess, even excess.
I’ve started to streamline. I gave away 16 bags of clothes, got together all of the headphones, digital cameras, phones and other stuff we all tend to buy in airports when we realise we’ve forgotten something all taking up space all over the gaff and started to declutter.
It’s amazing how liberating getting rid of things you no longer use or have use for is. Not least of all because they can all be of use to other people.
There’s really bad logic that we use pointed out in the book ‘Declutter your Life’.
Our solution for running out of space to store our ‘things’ in is to get more space.
We don’t need less ‘things’, we need more space.
We don’t declutter, we find more storage, or buy a bigger house.
My wardrobes – a result of buying almost the same identical jacket / t shirt / work pant over and over again. Most of which never see the light of day. My trainer cupboard the same thing. Loads of limited and hard to attain footwear that I’ve forgotten I even own let alone wear – that in the moment of buying gave me a lovely feeling of happiness via reward and release of dopamine, but have over time left me with a feeling of burden and guilt.
I feel gluttonous.
No matter how many clothes, shoes or things I own there’s a choice few I end up wearing or using regularly.
Realising that everything beyond what I wear and use is unnecessary has been a huge realisation for me.
Not chasing the next new thing, or searching for happiness via setting goals, achieving them and realising the real fun should be in the process and not the result (glory doesn’t last a life time), was also a pretty big epiphany.
The age old cliche ‘money can’t buy you happiness’ is relevant here.
You don’t pop out as a baby wanting ‘things’, you want love and nurture. It’s the only time in your life your wants and your actual needs are one in the same.
Then through conditioning that changes.
Growing up we didn’t have social media, reality TV, or any real window into the world of everything we didn’t have, not beyond a Littlewoods or Argos catalogue anyway.
Now we’re constantly kept up to date by way of social media / constant advertising / advertising via social media that there’s a lot we don’t have, may never have, but we want, because if we get what we don’t have it’ll solve all of our problems won’t it.
Why do we want these ‘things’ and what do they represent?
Do we want them because we actually want them, for us, and because we have use for them? Or do we want them because of what they say about us? To let everyone know we’re doing well at life, we’re achieving something.
Even if in reality all that’s being achieved is a string of debts due to wanting to project an unsustainable lifestyle.
But who cares?! it looks good on Instagram.
People put themselves through all sorts to get ‘things’ that make them happy but often end up doing the exact opposite. By way of risk taking, hours worked or financial stress because of what ‘things’ cost.
But there’s a bigger cost than the price tag on the label.
We spend all of our time working for the luxuries we rarely get to enjoy because we spend all of our time working.
Wouldn’t we all be happier if we found more content through communication and relationships?
Which we would have more time to nurture if we didn’t spend so long chasing ‘things’.
How can you ever have a relationship of any substance if you don’t have the time to spend getting to know someone; friend or partner.
Not to mention how easy it is to lose sight of who you are yourself, caught up in the constant cycle of working to live.
And if you don’t know yourself how can anyone ever really know you?
To discuss anything raised in this article, follow Stephen’s ‘I Used To Rave But Now I’ Instagram page and join the discussion.
Illustration by Berta Vallo
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