Sunday, February 1, 2009


I watched about how some Cambodians lives on boat and work to feed their big families on TV last night. They shared about their life and what they did for survival. Regardless of age and sex, they led a very tough life. However from beginning to the end of the show, they did not complain or blame other people for this tough life and they never fail to show their wrinkled smile on their face. These people are not as educated or affluent as we are but I feel that they are probably a happier lot than those in developed nations. I found an email from a friend about Consumerism and I like share with you here.


Many nations' material standard of living is now higher than ever. Production of material things has skyrocketed – but is still a way behind consumption, and further still behind demand. Does consumerism make people happier?

The citizens of the so-called 'developed nations' consume more products, live in bigger houses, use more consumer durables than those of the rest of the world. They have a higher material standard of living. However, social indicators such as family structure, suicide and crime levels tell a different story. Family breakdown, stress, loneliness and depression are much higher in the ‘developed’ countries. This is both a result of and a cause of increased economic activity, for many reasons. One of the main ones is that depressed people are encouraged to cheer themselves up by consuming. Expensive holidays, wasteful spas, bigger houses, fine dinings, etc

In the past recreation was spent mainly in non-consumptive activities, such as appreciating nature or visiting friends, but this is harder in a deterioriating social and natural environment. Isolation is reinforced by industries that have sprung up to encourage indulgence in selfish consumption - whether of food, drugs, digital culture or other means of escapism. A paradox of our system of economics is that although this tendency is disasterous for the individuals concerned it is great for economic 'progress'.

Obesity is an obvious symptom of over-consumption. More than half of the Americans were overweight - a proportion which is still rising. One can only speculate how this affects the self-esteem of those affected, in this world in which millions of people are literally starving. Overeating is widely known to be unhealthy, so one can see the obesity epidemic as evidence of how adept large organisations (i.e. companies) have become at manipulating individuals against their long term interests. Self-destructive overconsumption applies to many aspects of society, especially in 'developed' countries. In USA, most people devote hours every day consuming digital culture while families no longer spend time together in conversation. Many countries are following this model, in spite of the unprecedented damage to family and community life.


I know of some people going for spas that cost hundreds per session and go for long holidays every year citing work stress. They purchased expensive cars and eat in fine resturants to show their different status. Well, I don't know if they are really happy with their work or if they are trying too hard to prove that they are different. This is nevertheless problem with people in developed nations where family ties are failing and people are becoming more selfish.

This serves as a reminder for me and for everyone to show more care and concern for people around us...

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