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  • They Both Die at the End – General Review
    Summer break is the perfect opportunity to get back into reading. Adam Silvera’s (2017) novel, They Both Die at the End, can serve as a stepping stone into the realm of reading. The pace is fast, action-packed, and develops loveable characters. Also, Silvera switches point of view each chapter where narration mainly focuses on the protagonists, […]
  • My Favorite Book – Freshwater
    If there’s one book that I believe everyone should read once in their life, it’s my favorite book – Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. From my course, Queer Literature under Dr. Bill Albertini, I discovered Emezi’s Freshwater (2018). Once more, my course, Creative Writing Thesis Workshop under Professor Amorak Huey, was instructed to present our favorite […]

Consumption not only bad for the environment, but also for your psychological health

Forget baseball – consumption is the new national pastime; people spending money they don’t have on things they don’t need, so they can pay interest for 35 years on something which cost $12.50 they didn’t even like by the time they got it home. George Carlin often displayed a knack for nailing any issue regarding illness in American culture, and few of his remarks are more relevant than the one paraphrased above. Even in this age of recession which has virtually everyone in America feeling pinched, gimmicky knick-knacks continue to litter our homes and pollute our planet. Our lives are filled with gadgetry. People all over campus walk around with their heads buried in a text message and their ears tuned into their iPods, at the expense of hearing anything in the outside world. These are no idle gripes. Psychologists, environmentalists and health experts have all agreed mass consumerism isn’t doing anybody any good. It may create some jobs, but the numbers here aren’t particularly promising either with the advent of machinery to do what used to be human labor. AppleInsider.com reported a rebound in sales of the iPod for December 2008. Perhaps this is reflective of the changing of the guard in the White House, but that Apple could still manage to sell something in the range of 20 million units during such trying economic times helps show how in love Americans are with their toys. It has been argued this is simply the American way. If we are the best and brightest nation on the globe, we should afford ourselves the luxuries due to the world’s only dominant superpower. This is a nice thought, but it is a practically meaningless argument for a number of reasons (not the least of which is America’s falling from their economic superpower perch). The old adage ‘money can’t buy happiness’ may be one of the truer bits of conventional wisdom still floating around today. People seem, however, to have forgotten it – perhaps because the loss of money can lead to such heartbreaking discontent, as we are seeing now in America. Psychologist and dissident Bruce Levine recently contributed an article to Z Magazine titled ‘Fundamentalist Consumerism in an Insane Society.” In the article he lists the damaging effects of over-consumption. Levine writes: ‘Human beings are every day and in numerous ways psychologically, socially and spiritually assaulted by a culture which creates increasing material expectations, devalues human connectedness, socializes people to be self-absorbed, obliterates self-reliance, alienates people from normal human emotional reactions and sells false hope that creates more pain.’ Sadly, every word of it is true. He begins the article by telling a couple of amazing stories of people in retail stores being trampled to death during busy shopping seasons, so others could get their hands on big screen televisions. He cites a 2006 study revealing a rise in the number of people who feel they have no close friend in whom they can confide;’ up from 10 percent to 25 percent in 20 years. Levine’s article focuses primarily on the psychological effects of a mass consumerism society. These surely are devastating enough, but if one is willing to succumb to the alienation and depression which so often accompany the pursuit of private vice, it might be useful to look at the environmental consequences. A 2004 article by Hillary Mayell appearing on NationalGeographic.com reports: ‘Approximately 1.7 billion people worldwide now belong to the ‘consumer class’ – the group of people characterized by diets of highly processed food, desire for bigger houses, more and bigger cars, higher levels of debt and lifestyles devoted to the accumulation of non-essential goods.’ When the article was written, that number was rising due to the third world catching up, and five years later, it cannot have improved. As we consume more, we drain ever-increasingly on the Earth’s non-renewable natural resources. Humanity has been on a crash-course to catastrophe for a long time, but the matter has only gotten worse since World War II. Reading National Geographic magazine often gives the bleak impression that it may already be too late to turn back. Still, it is worth a try. With reports almost unanimously decrying consumption as working toward ‘the detriment of the environment, health and happiness,’ why not discard the iPod and forget about the 36-inch LCD TV? However convincing the virtual reality conjured by the images and sounds pumped into us by our constant intake of junk may seem, it is no competition for the real thing. Anyone can be mesmerized by seeing ‘Planet Earth’ in hi-definition, but it’s even better viewed through your own eyes.

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