Have you ever watched people buy stuff? Really watched them?
I was at The Warehouse (similar to WalMart) yesterday, buying my children some new shoes.
In front of me, a lady had a shopping trolley piled high with all sorts of things. I’m absolutely sure every single one of them was an on-the-spot purchase.
I couldn’t help wondering
a) how she could afford it all and
b) where she would even fit it all in her home?
As I looked around, I saw that this woman was just one of dozens of shoppers, all with piled-high trolleys, also full of stuff their soon-to-be owners probably didn’t need.
I felt like the oddity, with my planned-for purchases.
Stuck in big box madness
Do you feel like somehow our society had got stuck in big box madness? That’s how I feel.
I don’t know how we’ve got here, but this is where we are and I don’t think it’s doing any of us any good.
Over my lifetime, I’ve seen a shift to endless consumerism that I can’t even keep up with. It felt like it was good at first, and brought us great stuff at great prices. But now I feel like everything is spiraling out of control, and our world has become heartless, soulless and cruel.
Please tell me I’m not alone in feeling this way.
How it was different in the 1970s
It made me think about how different this was to when I was a child, back in the seventies, and all purchased had been carefully scheduled and planned.
When I was a child, almost everything we’d bought had been made in our own country. We just knew that, although the jobs that factories weren’t great, they were decent and fair.
Back in the 1970s, we mended damaged clothes and kept belongings for many years.
I don’t remember even being aware of “fashion”.
Most of my clothes were made by my mother.
We were frugal, because there was no “credit” and we simply had to be.
We did our shopping, when we did shop, in small stores that knew us and helped us find what we needed.
In short, community and caring were more important. That all came with a much higher price tag – consumer goods were much more expensive – but maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying the seventies were great, and that times are bad now. I don’t advocate a return of women to the home, a return to 1950s values (whatever they were), and a removal of technology and change from our lives.
I don’t think we could return to the past anyway, even if we wanted to. Life is change, and things move on.
I believe that, in general, life has improved for people around the world – even for people in the horrible sweatshops you hear about. I’ll talk about that in another post.
But maybe we could learn a thing or two from the past. Maybe we don’t need all this stuff. Maybe it doesn’t solve our problems or make us happy.
Maybe we don’t need huge houses, long commutes, plastic storage crates.
Maybe we don’t need fashion and trends and clutter.
Maybe there’s a middle ground.
And finding that middle ground might make us all happier.