You hear a lot about how we are a consumer society, a throw away society, and how we keep buy buy buying. But what I want to know is when we became so totally undiscriminating about it? Has Homo Sapiens Americanus lost the ability to question and reason? Ok so I’m watching cable TV these days (it came with the cave – I have ants and cable TV). I’m being exposed to mainstream advertising in a way I have not had to put up with for twenty years. Most of the ads are terrible. People are paid to write and perform this shit? It’s awe inspiring, really. And since the ads are so deplorable you ask yourself why do companies pay for them?
It is because, just like the “please let me send you a billion dollars, just send me your bank info” spam emails from Nigeria, they WORK. Now that is truly frightening. Ever asked yourself why you get so many telemarketing calls at dinner time? Because some people, instead of hanging up and eating their dinner and talking to their family, actually buy the crap the telemarketer is selling.
One of my current peeves as far as ads go is the one for some Oil of Olay skincare cream where they promise you if you buy this cream you can stop having dry skin and stop using so much cream. Well duh. If that actually happened Oil of Olay wouldn’t be able to sell any more product. I won’t even go into the pharmaceutical ads (except to say is possible DEATH and EXCESSIVE GAMBLING actually worth it to clear up your skin?).
Ok, so we get past the ads and we buy the product. Most of the stuff is utter and total crap. Remember the days you could buy a tea kettle and it would last long enough to leave to your kids? I’m not even talking high technology here, just a kettle. How difficult is it to make a kettle that holds water, looks nice, and whistles when the water boils so you don’t burn your house down (or at the very least don’t melt the kettle all over your stove top, been there done that). About six months ago I stupidly didn’t put the whistle on my kettle… you get the idea. I have bought three kettles since then. The first one was so cheap it didn’t whistle even though it was supposed to, the next was expensive but too small, and the third now reposes on my stove. It’s black, it has a whistle, it’s made by Kitchen Aid. It sucks. Really it does. The whistle is so faint it’s more like a slow leak and there is physically no way to pour boiling water out of it without sloshing scalding water all over the place.
Will I take it back? Probably not, it’s not worth the trouble, right? Right – and that’s why they can get away with making schlock.
Back to the cable TV for a minute: last night I watched a movie on one of the stations. The commercial breaks were so long that I had time to read five pages of my book without missing any of the movie.
Isn’t it time not only to question how much we buy, how much we spend, but stand up and demand that we get quality for what we spend? Remember cable TV isn’t free. I pay for the privilege of being sold to in my own home, interminably.