The True Meaning Of Consumerism

She smiled like she’d be fired if she didn’t. ‘Hi, welcome to a shop of some kind. It’s not plot relevant which kind. How can I help you?’

He smiled like it was considered rude to express his real emotions. ‘Lately all human endeavour seems pointless to me. No matter how I look at it, if I step back far enough our civilisation is nothing more than a mechanism for moving random clusters of atoms to different locations. A mechanism to which we’re expected to sacrifice our time, our relationships, our happiness.’

Her smile faltered for a fraction of a second. ‘I’m not sure I understand.’

His smile fell off. ‘Help me not see the world that way.’

The shop assistant considered this request. Then she smiled. ‘You’ve come to the right place! Now that humanity has thrown off the shackles of religion, spirituality and philosophy, we’re free to pursue the true source of happiness. Consumer goods! You don’t lack meaning, you lack this blender which claims to turn regular foods into super foods by blending them slightly more than normal blenders, even though that’s impossible! And this gluten free shampoo, because your body can absorb gluten through your hair I guess? And this car, it’s designed for a certain lifestyle, so by buying it people will think you live that lifestyle, even though you don’t!’

‘This is a strange shop.’

‘Don’t think about it!’

He looked around at the atoms which, for the time being, were arranged as shelves and things on shelves, then back to the atoms which were arranged in the shape of a shop assistant. ‘But how can you actually own anything? Ownership, consumerism, capitalism, aren’t they all, at their core, imaginary? They only exist because we all agree to pretend they exist. In reality, they’re no more real than a child’s game.’

Atoms which had once been a dinosaur’s penis but were now lips parted to reveal atoms which had once been Hitler’s moustache but were now teeth. ‘That’s your lack of buying things talking! What about this makeup? Centuries ago we constructed a concept of beauty that the human body is incapable of achieving on its own, allowing women and occasionally men depending on arbitrary cultural norms to buy expensive chemicals so they can paint different faces on their faces!’

‘My memory of yesterday is no more real than the memory of my dream last night. All that exists is the present, and yet we allow our yesterday define our today, and then spend it in service of a future which may never happen.’

She shop assistant atoms looked at the customer atoms and arranged themselves in such a way as to create and register the illusion of irritation. ‘This phone is slightly different to the phone you already have.’

‘Actually, that’s quite good. I’ll take two.’


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