Friday, April 01, 2005
you know you're getting old when.....
As we all know I have an ongoing quest to find a GOOD scary movie, and have thus far come up short in my findings. In the course of this quest I have had numerous conversations with friends about the topic, often in the hopes of finding out about a scary movie I have perhaps not yet tried. In doing so I have noticed a curious trend among my friends and acquaintances, which is that they have begun to steer *away* from scary movies as they've gotten older because they are too scary! To clarify, it's not that the movies have gotten scary so much as their tolerance for scary movies has dwindled. Evidently in their youth they were able to rebound from a scary night of movie viewing much better than they can now. I found that to be an odd thing since I thought that you became harder to scare as you grew older... such is the case with me. I couldn't watch scary movies as a kid and now I can't get enough of them.

However, I *have* noticed something that I am losing the stomach for as I have gotten older (perhaps moreso since hitting the big three-oh)...... consumerism. This is odd because I have, until recently, been a self-admitted marketing whore. I love shiny packaging and gimmicks. I love being a consumer and going to malls and stores. I don't actually buy that much (funny how lack of funds will do that) but I love having the option. I am happiest when I am being a consumer, and often use retail therapy as a means of lifting my spirits when I am in a foul mood. If I could have a 24 hour Wal-Mart and grocery store right in my back yard I would be thrilled because I am more than a marketing whore... I am a convenience slut. The corporate world has taught that I should be able to get whatever I want, when I want and it should be no farther than a 10 minute drive away.

But recently I have been disturbed by this feeling I get when I go through a mall... this "buy, buy, BUY!!!" feeling that's being shoved in my face. For instance, there is a new mall in my area that has just opened up and it has a very "American" feel to it (this is not a slight on my American brothers, it's just an observation). Everything is bigger, shinier and louder and just more aggressive in getting the consumer to spend. It has a lot of American stores in it that had not been in Toronto prior. Anyway, I felt like I was on another planet as I walked by store after store that was aimed at teens and all the trendy fashion that goes with being a teen. I can't put the words to it... but it all seemed so geared towards sucking the kids in and making them want to buy and consume and be trendy. It seemed so seedy and insidious as I passed these stores that all looked the same and had the same nondescript teen-angst music blaring from it. Again, maybe I'm showing my age here...

And then there is the "big box" trend (thank you again to my American neighbours for exporting that concept to us). For those who are not sure, the big box concept refers to large store setups (often as tall as a warehouse, maybe even as big) that are all stuck together, usually taking up a whole corner of an area/intersection and creating what is then referred to as a "power centre". Often you will see the same 5 - 10 stores all clumped together making it the same from town to town. Around here, as an example, you will often see the giant movie theatre lumped together with several restaurants and a bookstore. Makes sense, right? Give the consumer something to do before and after the movie. Some big box concepts like to keep certain brands together.... Club Monaco, Gap, Roots, Hallmark, Jones New York, Liz Claiborne, Ikea, Staples/Business Depot, Wal-Mart... are all good examples. I personally have always hated the big box concept because the stores seem to be close together but in fact are so huge that, door to door, they are way far apart. And maybe I'm just being a lazy consumer here, but if you've just bought a bunch of stuff, you don't wanna walk half a block to the next store and then another half block to the next store after that only to have to walk back a block or two to get back to where you originally parked). It's far enough that if you are in a real shopping mode you actually gotta go to your car between stores to either deposit your purchases or drive the 2 seconds to the next store. Think I'm lazy? Let's see you walk from one store to the next in during a Canadian winter. This is one of the compelling reasons why I love malls. Everything is indoor... you can just take a leisurely stroll and take it all in. Bring back the malls, I say!

But I digress. My point is that I have noticed recently that I find this 'need' to consume a bit disturbing. Is this what has become of us as a society? North America really IS the land of consumerism and it's starting to freak me out a bit. I just have to walk around Wal-mart for a while and before I know it I want to buy things! Things I don't even really need or want.... but I am compelled to get anyway. And as I look around I see the same thing happening all over the store with other people. I'll see a person strolling along.. just passing by and looking.. and then suddenly stop and pick up something. It just caught his eye and despite not actively looking for it, he now feels he needs it. It's BIZARRE!!

I dunno...sadly I am getting the feeling that I am not articulating my point well. I guess I'm just saying that I am worried I am going down a path of consumerism that I can never get out of. I am a child of the 80's afterall, a decade in which money was abundant as were all the toys and junk I could ever want. And now stores are being built all over the place and closer together than ever so I never need to go far to get what I need. Part of me, that convenience slut, is loving every minute of it. But another part of me feels like.... like we have lost total sight of what's important anymore. We are taught to want, and taught to consume, at any cost. And part of me wants to get away from this lifestyle... break away from it... before I drown myself in debt from my need to acquire more stuff. I am addicted to immediate gratification and I know it. But I want..things! And... stuff!!
Am I the only one feeling like this??

Anyway... Shabat Shalom, everyone. Have a great weekend.