In my marketing lecturer the other day we were shown this quote and it got my mind racing because it’s so true. That plus the new Stacey Dooley documentary plus my observations at work and in the world have got me thinking quite introspectively about how this all effects and shapes the society that we live in. (Apologies now for how rambling this post is but there were a few points I wanted to make)
Now I study it so I really do love marketing but it’s not perfect and it very much contributes to our sort of screwed up society that is weirdly evolving ever more materialistic and individualistic. The amount of marketing material we are bombarded with on a daily basis has this effect of making our society falsely conscious – meaning that we don’t really notice these things happening to us and changing our lives even though we feel like we are in control. As the quote above suggests we are much more materialistic because we think our possessions are a symbol of who we are or who we would like to be perceived as, and with these symbols we care about others perceptions of ourselves, we compare ourselves to one another and we are so caught up in our own shit that we don’t even consider the more important stuff like people who don’t have it as easy as us or the planet we want to live in, in general.
Through technological developments we have become more connected than ever before…right? Except not really. (Practically) everyone these days has a smartphone and earphones with which to block out the world around us. The more “connected” we are to our friends online, the more we turn off what is happening around us. I’m not gonna lie and say I don’t do it too but isn’t it mad that you can’t walk home without your earphones because it’ll be too boring without music/podcast/audiobook? When we’re in the cinema or the theatre, the second the lights go up we are sucked back to our phones to check what we’ve missed in the (shock horror) hour away from our phones. It’s madness.
Social media has us all comparing ourselves to one another, distilling our identity down into a surface level image of all the positive, pretty and exciting things we do and no wonder we’re a screwed up generation full of narcissism and self-esteem issues. We’re constantly plugged into it. It’s bad enough for people my age who can still remember what life was like pre-touch screens and unlimited connectivity to the internet. Imagine trying to develop as a human who is glued to a digital device. In the comparison of ourselves to people’s online personas we become jealous, wanting what they have and competitive to prove ourselves as “better than” others.
Then in this horrific cloud of narcissism we also ignore the important stuff. I just finished watching Stacey Dooley Investigates Fashion’s Dirty Secrets. Obviously we should know that any large industry is going to have some huge drawbacks because with every positive impact in the world there is usually a negative offset of this. However the fashion industry is one that we consider evil in terms of social impacts like the unrealistic body images or the working conditions of tax-free labour in countries we’ve never heard of, but Dooley’s documentary shows us the side that we are less educated on, the environmental impact that the production (and over-production) of clothes causes to the world with water shortages, landfill waste, and toxic poisoning all caused by us consumers who are bred to constantly consume and want more, new clothes so we can look our best without even letting us know what the consequences are.
Now I’m not saying that we should stop shopping for clothes cold turkey, cause you do need to wear something, but if we can inform people of these industries and maybe reduce the single wear then throw it away, greedily hoarding clothes attitudes then our planet and the people in it might not be suffering quite as much. Watching this documentary is a decent first step into becoming more aware of these impacts.
It’s about being conscious of your actions, what you’re doing and how that effects not only yourself but also the people and the world around you. Sure, buy clothes, take pictures of things but once in a while, turn your phone off and actually connect to the real world?