Friday, 15 June 2007

Can We Escape Consumerism?

During the time I have been writing this blog, through the comments I’ve received and through discussions with different people, it has become apparent that people from other countries are also trying to escape something. As disheartened as some people may be with various aspects of England, it is clear that other countries have their own problems too, which may or may not be similar to those we experience here in England.

One common thread however is that many people seem to be longing to hop off the hamster wheel of modern life. It seems that there is a general awakening and awareness to the meaningless and emptiness of exhausting ourselves working for the sole purpose of purchasing the next big expensive object to fill our life with momentary pleasure.

If you are looking to escape England and live and work abroad, I believe there is a primary question you need to ask yourself – certainly it’s a question I’ve been challenging myself with over the last year or so. Do you want to escape England – or do you just want to escape consumerism?

For me, escaping consumerism plays a huge factor. I gain no soulful pleasure from working all the hours under the sun just so that I can buy a new car. From experience I know that the pleasure delivered by these purchases are short lived. As soon as the pleasure where’s off – you need the next fix – the next big expensive thing – a bigger house, a better TV, a more exclusive holiday, a better car – and so on. And as a result you can easily see how you could potentially end up running faster and faster in the hamster wheel. It’s crazy and leads absolutely nowhere.

Now – for those of us that are keen to escape consumerism, there is another answer other than leaving the country. We could simply choose not to “buy in” to the whole thing. We could choose to live simpler lives, become more self sufficient, spend more time with friends and family but above all – SPEND LESS.

Personally – I think this is a very tough call. We are continuously seduced and bombarded with marketing strategies cleverly designed to subconsciously make us want to buy. In addition to this – I think we’re in the minority. I believe it is extremely tough to remove yourself from consumerism when you are living in a country where consumerism is at the core of its existence. I have always been the kind of gal who would much rather remove temptation than resist temptation – maybe that makes me weak willed? But whatever – it’s true…

As far as consumerism goes – logic tells me that the best way to escape the seduction of career, money and the perceived success and respect this brings – is to take yourself to a country which is not so hungry for material wealth. To live in an area where you are surrounded by people who really don’t have a great deal – but are nevertheless happy. To find a home where people have time for each other, time to relax and where all that really matters to everyone is ensuring that the very basic human needs are met.

What concerns me however – is the rate at which consumerism can spread – like a disease which has no cure. If we blindly remove ourselves from consumerism by taking ourselves to places where it is less prevalent – then I imagine that we have not actually tackled the real issues. As a result our consumer attitudes will follow us wherever we go – and – as contagious as it surely is- consumerism will continue to spread – until there is no place left to go.

So please ask yourself the question – do you want to escape England, or do you want to escape consumerism? If you want to escape consumerism – then fine – me too… but we need to ensure that we do actually escape it – and we don’t just take it with us!

If you have any thoughts on how to escape consumerism – then please do share… Or maybe you can enlighten us all to some of the benefits of consumerism… whatever your thoughts – I’ love to hear them…

Here's one useful link to start us off:

Thanks to the 21stcenturymummy for inspiring this post – and the bottle of wine I’ve just consumed to help find the words!!!

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