June 10, 2008

My Soap Box on Consumerism and the Youth of America

Last night, Simple Guy and I found ourselves killing time before an appointment in one of my most least favorite places in the world.....a mall. About six years ago I developed a strong dislike for shopping malls. It all started with not being able to escape from the gargantuan images of scantily clad men and women, who looked like they were getting ready to do anything BUT try to sell me on a t-shirt or perfume. I used to be offended by those images, but now I am just disgusted by them. Also, I think they are ridiculous- why do we insist on sexualizing everything? Try to think of an answer beyond "Sex sells."

I am beginning to digress......okay, so I do not like malls, but last night I was on high alert and my sensors were going off loud and clear. You see, I am slowly acquiring a distaste for consumerism and we all know that malls are one of the most consumeristic places you can find yourself in- the whole purpose of going to a mall is to buy things.

Anyway, some people may get a chuckle out of my being turned off by consumerism, because to you, it appears that all I do is consume. You know what? You are wrong! I am far more aware of what I am buying, why I am buying it, and how much I am buying it for more than I ever have been....and, I would say, more than the average consumer.

Our TV is old, but it works, and until it only broadcasts a black screen, we will keep it. And to be honest, I would be tempted to not buy another one. But that's a conversation for later.

Our car is getting up there, but it works, and when the time comes to turn in the keys for good, we will most likely be purchasing another used car.

Our place is small, but it suits our needs, and when the time comes to pack up and move, I can guarantee you will not be buying a place that is double the size that we would ever need. Why would we get something bigger? Just to fill it up with things? No, thank you!

Our clothes are fine, and while we nary look like we just walked off the runway, our bodies are covered and we look presentable enough to go on the occassional interview or hot date. It is not in our value system to spend gobs of money on clothing. We believe in spending a bit more to get something of quality that will last a long time, but we do not spend money on trends and frills.

All this to say, I am turned off by consumerism. And being in that dang mall made me want to run for the mountains and never go back.

And here is the other thing that really bothered me that night while we were there: the pre-teens and teenagers that were swarming all over the place. That in itself does not bother me, but what did were the cell phones and texting devices permanently attached to their ears and hands; the bling-bling wallets that when they opended, revealed credit cards and a good chunk of cash; the clothes that weren't really there; the attitiude that was given to those working in the stores; the complete disregard for picking up after themselves.

You know what? Yuck! Maybe I am becoming crusty in my "old age," but the problem with our youth these days is that they have too much stuff; too much money given to them and not earned; too much attitiude because as a society we believe we should treat youth as our equals and sometimes with more revere because they supposedly know more than anyone over the age of 21; and they have too much time on their hands.

I am not saying that all of America's youth is like this, but I would venture to say that most are. I once heard a speaker at a conference talk about his interactions with youth and when they would complain that they were bored because there were no video games to play; clothes to buy; or movies to go to, he would say. "You're not bored, you ARE boring!"

I love that! There is too much going on in this world to be bored. There are people to help; places to volunteer; books to read; eldery people that need visiting; at-risk youth to mentor; and so on and so on. The reason why they were bored is because they made life about just themselves, and that gets boring. Heck, I am bored just thinking about me, but when I think about a cause that helps people in need, then I am excited.

Obviously, we all could apply the idea of not making our lives just about us, but I am choosing to single out our youth.....they are, after all, our future.

And that concludes this rant on my soap box today.

1 comment:

A family in Iowa. said...

Amen,amen, amen. I worked at a mall during college and found the mall food court to be the saddest place on earth. And don't be surprised if you someday see me on the news outside of an Abercrombie picketing with some sort of clever poster venting my disgust. Seriously.