Update on anti-consumer movement February 16, 2006 9:05 PM   Subscribe

Update to (or impact of?) this open thread on the anti-consumer "Compact".
posted by obloquy to MetaFilter-Related at 9:05 PM (27 comments total)

Intresting. I think it's a good idea just because people ought to spend less money on useless junk.
posted by delmoi at 9:08 PM on February 16, 2006

I'm forming a new anti-whateveryougot Compact. It involves spending money on whiskey, cocaine and hookers, but in an environmentally responsible, renewable, responsible way. Also, the money Compactrons spend on the Three Essentials should be recycled, or, in the terminology of the military-industrial oppressors, 'stolen'.

Who's with me?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:43 PM on February 16, 2006

Amazing how reminding people they can live full lives without wasting tons of crap strikes such a deep nerve.
posted by mediareport at 10:43 PM on February 16, 2006

"People seem intrigued, which is good," said Kate Boyd, a drama teacher at Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco who's one of the original members.

Heh. Lick-Wilmerding.

That's my contribution.

Oh, and I don't buy much. I hate shopping with a passion. And it pisses me off that even so-called durable goods are not meant to be repaired, but thrown away when they break. Try finding someone who will fix an inkjet printer. Below a certain price point (basically anything consumer grade) there isn't even a spare parts supply chain and discontinued products are simply not repairable at all.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:28 PM on February 16, 2006

As I said in the earlier thread. I give them kudos for trying to make a change. It's crazy how angry some people get though.
posted by arcticwoman at 11:29 PM on February 16, 2006

Sarah Pelmas: It's not like it's some revolutionary, or even consistent, thing we're doing...[if] it bothers people so much, it really speaks to how deep we are into consumerism in this country

Obviously spoken by someone who is not a regular MeFi reader.

Sarah Pelmas, if you're reading this: I would bet dollars to doughnuts that over 95% of the ridiculing you got on MeFi was not due to people being bothered by the fact that you aren't buying stuff, but the "it's not like it's...even consistent" part.
posted by Bugbread at 11:32 PM on February 16, 2006

You know, reading their response to criticism shows that these people have no power of self-reflection whatsoever, and would rather "lash back" at critics than think terribly deeply about those aspects of their "quest" which have been the target of naysayers.

"It's not like it's some revolutionary, or even consistent, thing we're doing..."

Sarah Pelmas clearly doesn't get it. Hint Sarah: not being consistent is what's bothering people. A lot of people are doing what you're doing without advertising it -- it's called "not having a lot of money."

"I've also been attacked personally for being in marketing," said Perry, who works for a Silicon Valley high-tech company. "One person said that's like a pimp preaching abstinence. Then someone else said it was like a sinner seeking penitence -- who better?"

John Perry really doesn't get it. It's like having a drug dealer tell you to "say no to drugs" without irony, or having a tobacco company lecture you about health issues. The dealer may not be a user himself, but he's still selling the stuff.

Perhaps the people interviewed in the story are unrepresentative of people involved in the Compact (which I doubt, but it's possible), but frankly it seems like a lot of flash and little substance.
posted by clevershark at 5:45 AM on February 17, 2006

Face it: We don't even know how locked-in we are to this consumerist culture. We don't even mind being referred to as "consumers" rather than people or humans. I'm ashamed that my idea of celebrating or of overcoming a bout of depression is to go buy myself some trinket I don't really need. And I lack the courage to really look deeply into this phenomenon. Nor can I imagine what other, better, behavior could replace this consumerism of mine. And I'm a person who drives a car for 14 years. These folks are just trying to make an important point.
posted by Hobgoblin at 5:51 AM on February 17, 2006

I'm going to go to bed real early tonight and see if I can wake up tomorrow giving a damn about any part of this, but I wouldn't hold out a lot of hope. Thanks for the link, tho.
posted by mojohand at 6:04 AM on February 17, 2006

Hobgoblin: I think these people are making a point and they're ridiculous, you can do both. It's always a little unsettling to see upper middle class people act like poor people (or how they think poor people act, or how many poor people circa 1935 acted) without a shred of irony. Or having an understanding that just having enough stuff that you know you don't need to buy anything for 12 months is a really crazy luxury. I'm happy they're being good role models for the rest of their upper middle class klatch, but call some of the people in my town, they've been living practically like this for decades, no one's dying to get them on their teevee shows or pull-quoted for their newspapers. Thanks for the update obloquy.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:24 AM on February 17, 2006

As I said in the earlier thread. I give them kudos for trying to make a change. It's crazy how angry some people get though.

gah! As bugbread & clevershark have already clarified, a)I don't think people are really angry and b)the annoying part of the whole thing is NOT that they are trying to buy less stuff. That's absolutely A Positive Thing from my view, if they honestly normally have trouble resisting $300 shoes.

What is annoying is that they are doing so little and acting so proud of it. I have not bought any new clothes for probably about a year; I actually really need to invest in some new clothes but have not had the chance to do so (and before xmas, I figured I'd wait until afterward, in case I rec'd clothes as gifts). I have not bought any new technology since I I got my laptop a little over a year ago, but I intend to buy a wireless router as soon as I get my cable hooked up. I have recently bought some home improvement-y stuff because I moved. I considered buying a wireless drill but eventually decided it was too expensive, and continue to use the wireful drill that I've had for like 10 years. Like George-Spiggot, I expect to use things for many years, and I buy new things because I need them, not because they're on sale or look exciting or whatever.

And I just consider myself a normal person, not some martyr for the cause. I'm a grad student, don't have a huge amt of money, but more than that, I don't crave a whole lot of stuff. I'm considering buying a television (- oh, I lied about technology; I bought a new clock radio last week) and/or a microwave, but I'm not anti-technology/media, considering I have a new(ish) laptop & a cell phone (that's 3 yrs old tho').

none of which is to suggest that people who make different consumer choices are 'better' or 'worse' - I totally respect the variations in different lives & lifestyles that call for a different level of investment in stuff. My only rule is that the choices really be active, comfortable choices, not impulsive, pointless buys, especially not if they provide a "high" and then a later let-down, which some people describe in their relationship to shopping. Having a TV or not having a TV is not a character trait. But your relationship to your TV might be - etc.
posted by mdn at 6:36 AM on February 17, 2006

Face it: We don't even know how locked-in we are to this consumerist culture. We don't even mind being referred to as "consumers" rather than people or humans.

Hobgoblin, while I agree with what you're saying in general, this is a bit of a red herring. I mean, I'm called a commuter when I ride a train, instead of a person or human. I'm called a rock climber when I climb rocks, instead of a person or human. I'm called a listener when I listen, instead of a person or human. I'm called a painter when I paint, instead of a person or human. If you're going to get all angry about "consumer", you should get all angry about all the "er"s, otherwise you're just manufacturing outrage when it suits you.
posted by Bugbread at 6:39 AM on February 17, 2006

We've had a lot of people say we're smug, self-congratulatory braggarts," John Perry

It's very sad that he doesn't understand how seeking (and then receiving) national attention would be, um, bragging. Given the prevelance of thift stores, consignment shops, and classified ads, this "buy stuff secondhand" idea isn't so uncommon.
posted by desuetude at 6:48 AM on February 17, 2006

Why not post this in the original thread?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:58 AM on February 17, 2006

So nobody's with me, then?

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:16 AM on February 17, 2006

monju_bosatsu, you know if it's not on the front page without having to scroll, it may as well be closed and archived.

Out of sight, out of mind.

posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:17 AM on February 17, 2006

Fuck it. I'm in, stavros.

But we should make our own whiskey from non-gmo corn mash.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:40 AM on February 17, 2006

I'm with you, stavros. I know where we can find some free-range hookers, too.
posted by JeffK at 7:43 AM on February 17, 2006

"It's been totally insane. We've had a lot of people say we're smug, self-congratulatory braggarts," John Perry, one of the founders of the original Compact group, said today.

And I'm one of them. As usual, jessamyn is right on the, er, money. (Which I've had hardly any of this past year, so I too have been rejecting consumerism! Where are the reporters??)
posted by languagehat at 8:27 AM on February 17, 2006

The "Compact" group is interesting, but it's not exactly earth shattering. I found it a little goofy that it made the front page of SF Gate.

But it does remind me of my own personal projects that I undertake every now and then. One year I set out not to buy any new computer hardward (except replacement items), not to make a statement about anything but just as a personal exercise in changing the way I think about what sort of personal habits I have developed.

This year I have two.

First, I am not buying any new fiction or non-fiction essay style books (graphic novels and employment handbooks aren't part of it) and read only books I already have bought and not read or finished or just check stuff out at the library. Again, nothing to do with making a statement, but more to do with changing a habit (kind of a bad one of just buying books impulse purchase style) I have and learning to think about my own actions a little more.

Second, I'm not doing any instant messaging at home on the weeknights. And that's the harder of the two for me simply because I've been IMing (or express messaging on telnet BBSes pre IM days) for so long.

Again, nothing to do with anyone else, no statement to make, nothing earth shattering. They're just habit changes as a personal exercise to make me use my time differently and to have a little more consideration about what I do with my time.

Habits get ingrained pretty deep over time, after all, so it's interesting to have to think about something again that I never really put a lot of thought into after the habit was formed.
posted by smallerdemon at 8:45 AM on February 17, 2006

monju_bosatsu writes "Why not post this in the original thread?"

Because the article appears to quote the original thread. The pimp and sinner comparisons. I think that justifies a MeTa post.
posted by brundlefly at 9:32 AM on February 17, 2006

I was just scrolling down to in join the Stavrossian Accord. I think that's what it should be called because I think the Compact sounds more like something you get trapped in on the Death Star.

And, if we join the Stavrossian Accord, we get to be Stavrossian Accordians! If the free range hookers and ecologically sound blow weren't enough, that would get me to sign up.
posted by freebird at 12:36 PM on February 17, 2006

Stavros, you had me at "whiskey".
posted by obloquy at 12:46 PM on February 17, 2006

And in those Last Days, when the Peak Oil did but trickle and the Lamp of Civilization burned but a'sputtering and low, the Stavrossian Accordians were the last bright flash of the Grand Dreams and the Promise of Humanity before the fall.

On the hills above the now dark Cities, forming arcane symbols in blow on the bellies of supine PleasureBots, they looked out over the ruined land and Remembered. Remembered when a thousand lights had burned the night away over every street, and a young child could dream of reaching zero gravity in orbit, propelled by dreams, dedication, and a lucrative career in a pop band. Remembered when the internet allowed the Voices of people the world over to merge in a Glorious Chorus of....

"Hmm..." quoth the Stavros to his fellow Accordians, "you know, when I actually do Remember, things don't seem that bad after The Fall. Do up another pentagram for me, and bring on the Pancake Dancers! What do we need to Remember for - we have Cameras!"
posted by freebird at 1:03 PM on February 17, 2006

The first thing I'll do when I get money is be not be poor.
posted by Homeskillet Freshy Fresh at 12:30 AM on February 18, 2006

Once again, freebird nails the post millenial braindump perfectly. Shine on, you crazy (post-industrial) diamond.
posted by lalochezia at 8:40 AM on February 19, 2006

I love me some freebird.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:53 PM on February 19, 2006

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