Time to say no to the consumerism of Christmas

The buying fervour now associated with Christmas is upon us. And with it comes the frenzied desire to follow the advertisers’ underlying message that buying certain products for ourselves or other people will make us happy.

Our television screens and letterboxes are full of images of the “must-haves” that well-adjusted consumers supposedly aspire to. Gadgetry, beauty products, fashionable clothes and toys for young and old are pictured and talked about in ways designed to make us feel inadequate if we don’t buy them.

Our homes will not be maintained properly if we don’t have the latest, noise-making garden tool, our health will be compromised if our kitchens don’t show the latest examples of food preparation, and our sense of self will diminish if we don’t wear the latest fashion. Worst of all, our children will be socially inept without exclusive ownership of the latest electronic gear.

Our senses are bombarded by repeated bursts of in-your-face advertising bullying that most of us take for granted. We trot off to the shops to buy things we have been told we need, with little thought as to whether we can afford them. The most popular method of payment is by credit card; it means that many consumers live under clouds of debt, which may become unmanageable and affect their long-term wellbeing.

So what about the happiness espoused by advertisers? How long do the latest clothes stay fashionable? How many kitchen gadgets end up at the back of the cupboard? How soon is it before a more up-to-date entertainment appliance is required to impress neighbours, friends and family?

Why do we have to be told what we need? What has happened to our ability to make decisions about what will make us happy? Gift giving is personal and unrelated to cost, size and fashion. A small, well-chosen gift can deliver more happiness to the recipient, and the giver, than something that is large, expensive and flashy.

Advertisers’ only motive is to increase their profits. It has nothing to do with the quality or suitability of the product. Short-term gain overrides any concern about the long-term effect of that product on society. Our debt-ridden community can ill afford to ignore the warning signs.
Sue Nolle, Caulfield

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