14 November 2008


Tonight on All Things Considered, News Analyst Daniel Schorr speculated that the Age of American Consumerism May Be Over. Though being consumers is closely tied to patriotism in our national psyche, current economic circumstances necessitate or reflect a decrease in spending that might make us, as a nation, change our tune.

But what's interesting about Schorr's analysis is the use of the word "consumption." Even though I assume there is a definition of this term that is exclusive to the field of economics, that didn't stop me from pondering the other definitions of the word and placing them in this economic context. Since I am studying 19th century literature just now and not economics, each time Schorr said "consumption," I couldn't help but think of an old-fashioned disease.

The OED confirms this sense of gloom with the tone of some other definitions of consumption: "the action or fact of consuming or destroying; destruction," "decay, wasting away, or wearing out," and "wasteful expenditure, waste." When you put it that way, it brings a whole new meaning - as Shorr hinted - to "shop til you drop."


Sergio said...

very interesting. reading your post makes me feel more like a "consumed" than a "consumer." i guess one could say we don't consume the products, rather they consume us. oh my...

EMJAY said...

Nice post! My friend Carrie from high school recently read a book and blogged about it--AFFLUENZA: The All-Consuming Epidemic, you can see her post here if you're interested.


Not really a full review, just a quick commentary.

Damon said...

I missed his commentary, but will take a listen when I get to a computer with audio (another story). But, it is surprising (perhaps) to realize how deeply embedded in our national psyche consumption is, especially that was really a product of the post-WWII retooling of the economy.

Emily said...

You can also read Daniel Shorr's commentary if audio is a problem. Just follow the link in this post.

Maybe it's time for some new retooling. WWII was kind of a while ago.

Mandy: your friend's post is interesting and the book Affluenza sounds fascinating. This is all reminding me of The Story of Stuff (http://www.storyofstuff.com/) and of many conversations I (the packrat) have had with Sergio (the minimalist).