January 29th, 2004

last unicorn

A rant about consumer culture

(Also a test of the post-by-email thing)

Y'know, sometimes I actively hate North American culture. We're so convinced that we "need" all kinds of stuff, and it's just so absurd. And frustrating. Right now, I'm annoyed about cars. It started with the comment a few months ago that you shouldn't have a kid if you don't have a car (what?). Apparently, the argument is that "what if you have to go to the hospital? Who wants to wait for a cab?" My reaction to that was, if it's really that time-sensitive, why aren't you calling a freaking ambulance? 90% of the time, I'm sure 15 minutes isn't going to be the end of the world. And is it really so much safer to have an anxious parent driving? Whatever. It may be more convenient to have a car, but that's as much part of our car-dependent culture as anything else. Get over it.

And now my colleagues J and P (one of whom just had a kid, and one of whom is expecting) are both going on about how they need bigger vehicles. With one kid. For all the "stuff", apparently. Because there's no room for all the "stuff" in their mid-sized cars. So they're looking at vans. For one kid. And then, because vans aren't sexy, or something, they're looking at SUVs. SU freakin' Vs. I guess they're slightly cheaper than vans (or so I gather), but it really sounds to me suspiciously like a prestige thing. They're too cool, and hip, and young to drive vans. So they're going to buy SUVs.

I'll confess, the repeated disparaging comments about N.American vehicles aren't helping. My dad sells GMs, and I'm really starting to get sick of all the "oh, I only buy imports" and "I would never buy a GM". They don't have any good reasons, either -- at least not that I can see. They just don't feel that they "like" them. I'm pretty sure it's a prestige/cool thing. And it's driving me nuts.

These are the same people who are always dicksizing their TVs and their cable packages and all the rest of it, too. And much as I like them as people, I'm finding the consumerism increasingly frustrating and irritating. Y'know, I'm no angel myself. I like nice things. I just can't quite understand the degree to which these people take it. And it upsets me to think that they're almost certainly more "normal", more representative of the population as a whole, than I am. Certainly more than the really crunchy-granola types in their electric hybrid cars.

The other day, they were trying to convince L (who's looking into getting Internet at home and thinking about doing one of those cable things with Rogers) that she needed faster Internet, even though she kept saying that she doesn't use it much and doesn't want it for anything fancy. They just kept saying, "but don't you want it faster? Just to say that it's faster? To have the fastest?" Gah.

If I ever turn into this, please shoot me or smack me upside the head or something. Please.
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