In the run-up to spiked’s next Parliamentary Debate, Celebrating Consumer Choice: Standing Up for Shopping in the 21st Century, we thought it was an opportune moment to survey all the terrible things that greens, health wonks and pop psychologists have blamed on consumerism.
Having access to an ever-expanding range of consumer products, foods, services and so on is apparently making our children into heartless little shits, according to London-based psychotherapist Graham Music. In an interview in the Toronto Globe and Mail, Music is alarmed at ‘the rise of callous, selfish behaviour’. Music claims: ‘Research shows that people who care more about status symbols, what they look like or being famous, have more mental-health problems, and if you are exposed to those values, you are more likely to become unhappy. People who place greater value on being with the people they care about and doing things they believe in, tend to be healthier, both physically and mentally. But consumerism is addictive… Once self-interest wins, it’s hard to get the other side back.’ Because, of course, people in the past were so much nicer in conditions of scarcity. Nothing bad ever happened then…
There are two reasons why consumerism can play a role in obesity, apparently. According to one finance blogger, ‘consumerism can result in extra work hours, which results in eating out more, bringing home fast food, or making those quick meals that are in your freezer’. Moreover, ‘stress plays a huge factor in obesity; it can slow down your metabolism or make you want to overeat. Both of these factors probably have played a huge role in the fact that obesity has become a sort of epidemic in our country.’ Or it could be that after a long working day, fast food and convenience meals are a great relief from having to shop for ingredients and cook a meal from scratch – and that obesity is a more complex issue than eating ready meals.