Affluenza: How Overconsumption Is Killing Usand How to Fight Back
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
NEW EDITION, REVISED AND UPDATED
affluenza, n. a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.
We tried to warn you! The 2008 economic collapse proved how resilient and dangerous affluenza can be. Now in its third edition, this book can safely be called prophetic in showing how problems ranging from loneliness, endless working hours, and family conflict to rising debt, environmental pollution, and rampant commercialism are all symptoms of this global plague.
The new edition traces the role overconsumption played in the Great Recession, discusses new ways to measure social health and success (such as the Gross Domestic Happiness index), and offers policy recommendations to make our society more simplicity-friendly. The underlying message isn't to stop buying—it's to remember, always, that the best things in life aren't things.
Wal-Mart). And in the Age of Affluenza, such success has become the supreme measure of value. But human beings are more than consumers, more than stomachs craving to be filled. We are producers as well, looking to express ourselves through stable, meaningful work. We are members of families and communities, moral beings with an interest in fairness and justice, living organisms dependent on a healthy and beautiful environment. We are parents and children. Our affluenza-driven quest for maximum
us that our real communities were once close-knit and friendly. How will Disney portray the good old days of the suburbs, in future exhibits? Will it orchestrate background ambience—highway traffic, jackhammers, and beeping garbage trucks—to make it more realistic? Will it re-create gridlock with bumper-to-bumper cars, complete with smartphones to tell our families we’ll be late for the next ride? Will our tour of the “gated community” require more tickets than rides through the “inner city” do?
means of which the individual tries to entice the essence of the other person, his money. Every real or potential need is a weakness which will draw the bird into the lime.… The entrepreneur accedes to the most depraved fancies of his neighbor, plays the role of pander between him and his needs, awakens unhealthy appetites in him, and watches for every weakness in order, later, to claim the remuneration for this labor of love.7 That passage, written 169 years ago, accurately describes much of
Elgin likes to talk about Arnold Toynbee’s law of progressive simplification. He points out that the great British historian studied the rise and fall of twenty-two civilizations and “summarized everything he knew about the growth of human civilizations in one law: The measure of a civilization’s growth is its ability to shift energy and attention from the material side to the spiritual and aesthetic and cultural and artistic side.” Thousands of Americans are coming together in small groups all
Another child poked a stick at a dead beetle, commenting to her friend that the insect’s batteries must have run out. Is nature becoming just so much nostalgia in our virtualized world? Richard Louv, author of the pivotal book Last Child in the Woods and cofounder of the Children & Nature Network, recalls that when he started interviewing children and their families in the 1980s, “They’d watch reruns of Lassie on TV, and see Jeff and Porky build a tree house in the woods, get lost, and have