consume less, create more

Well, the weather outside is frightful and I'm curled up on the couch with a cup of lukewarm tea listening to the wind whipping against the house.  It's late and I'm waiting for sleep to sound enticing.  I was scrolling facebook, clicked a link that took me to a video of a ballet routine and then at the bottom of the article they posted the ballet video that went viral earlier this year to Hozier's Take Me To Church, which I'd seen months ago, and I watched it again.  It struck me how that song was played over and over and over again on the radio back when it came out.  I liked the song.  I felt it was moving.  I enjoyed when it came on the radio.  But the forces of consumption require new things to take the place of older things and that song was eventually taken out of the regular play cycle, relegated to who knows where.  I haven't heard it on the radio once in months.

Perhaps it's the time of year.  Consumerism runs rampant during the holidays.  I can barely listen to ads they're so obnoxiously pushy about selling me All The Things.  Events like Black Friday and the general climate anywhere near a shopping center this past week make me disheartened.  I don't get the need to buy things for people that they don't need, just because it's a thing we do.  I understand that giving gifts communicates love.  I'm not a gift love language person, so gift giving is relatively unnecessary in my world anyway, but I understand the concept of showing love through giving, whether it's items or time or acts of service, etc.  But that being said, Christmas these days seems like an extension of our fast fashion, fast food, made-to-break (so you can upgrade), cultural obsession with consuming more more more.  Kids want the new toy from the super popular kids movie that came out that year, marketed to them during their cartoons, plastered on their cereal boxes, blasted in their eyes and eardrums at every possible moment.  You have to have this movie and all associated toys.

Christmas makes it super obvious, and it gets a bad reputation for it's transparent consumerism here in the states, but really, it's just a symptom of the culture we've created that devalues everything so that we feel like we must buy more.  Clothes aren't designed to last more than a year or two because, well, they won't be in style after that, and because it's easier to sell you ten cute dresses that are cheap than one nicely made dress that costs more.  And the goal?  Sell you things.  Lots of them.  So businesses create a system in which things are designed to break or become obsolete.  Why do we need a new phone every year when the old one is perfectly functional.  Waste from our discarded tech toys is filling up landfills all over the world.  3rd world countries don't even want our old second hand clothes anymore.  There are simply too many of them and they are too poor of quality.

Dan and I haven't done much in the way of Christmas gift giving in the four years we've been married.  Neither of us are gift giving love language people, and we feel a bit silly giving each other things neither of us need.  That might change when we have kids.  Christmas morning is a pretty magical experience as a kid, I will admit.  But I'd rather foster my kid's sense of creativity and wonder through their presents, by getting them things like art supplies, building sets, and books, rather than toys from a movie that will go out of fashion in 6 months.  I know, I'll be singing a different tune when my kid is dying for THE toy from THE movie in 2020.  The most noble parent is the one with no kids.

Still, I want to opt out of the consumption madness.  I want life to revolve around making things and being content with what we have (which is so so so much).  I want memories of times spent together, not silly gadgets unwrapped around a gussied up fir tree.  I want to hear music on the radio that came out last year, or even 6 months ago. I want to create a world where musicians don't get chewed up and spit out after their big hit starts to fade from the charts because the next viral song is amping up.  A world where fads in fashion don't change every few weeks because someone in a factory in Bangladesh that's one tremor away from collapse can pump out H&M's new trend capsule in a week flat.  A world where kids aren't targeted by ads telling them to want want want need need need.  I want that world.  I need that world.  I'm not sure how to create it, but for now I know I can opt out of the consumption as best as I can.  Consume less.  Create more.