All Quiet About Consumption

Posted February 2, 2011
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I'm going to be honest, I was hoping my article  'iFad' would generate a discussion. Perhaps it was the poor choice of title, or my nasty habit to try too hard to be clever. Maybe it was too long, or the '5 steps of grief' analogy fell flat. I may have writtten it too close to Christmas to get all anti-commercial (though the Whos of Whoville or Charlie Brown would disagree). It might simply boil down to the fact I don't have all that many readers. But, for whatever reason, the article failed to generate discussion.

Now, by no means do I take the lack of response personally. I enjoy writing about topics I'm passionate about, regardless of who reads them. If no one discussed the issue I presented in my article, there's legitimate reasons for that. Likely, it's everything I discussed in the former paragraph, but it also crossed my mind that's there's another reason iFad and topics like it aren't often talked about: It's hard to.

In writing iFad, I was constantly aware of my own hypocracy throughout. It's an awful feeling, like watching Jersey Shore. In iFad, I identified a multitude of severe problems our technology consuming habits have created (that can't be rebuked and politicized the way climate change unfortunately has), and yet I wouldn't be able to learn about the issue, write about it, and reach so many people with such ease, without it.


The pinnacle of human civilization? Or the downfall?The pinnacle of human civilization? Or the downfall?

In criticizing our exponentially increasing technology consumption, it's like I'm criticizing innovation itself. That's exactly why it's so hard a topic to talk about. We like our society. We like having devices personalized to our lifestyles. So much so that when faced directly with the problems our lifestyles created, we'd rather turn the other way, almost like a self-defense mechanism such as memory loss after extreme trauma. But when confronted with the issues head-on, can we really continue to not take responsibility? I know there are many bright, socially-responsible, and engaging people out there who spend a great deal of their own time sharing articles and encouraging lively discussion to have a positive impact on the community at large. I know this, because I follow some of them on twitter. These people are up to date with the latest technology, taking advantage of it to provide that awareness. 


With iFad, I was very much reaching out to these people in hopes I'd start a discussion about their attempts to reconcile sustainability with a life style of consuming electronics. That discussion never happened, and my concern grows that even those in my tech-savvy generation who have made a hobby out of encouraging social responsibility and sustainability would rather share a gadget wishlist with the media than attempt to address why our current tech consuming economy.

Whether or not my article was worthy of response is not the point, the point is that we all need to have that kind of conversation more often with more people in our daily lives. As tough as it is, we can be critical of our own over indulgences in the marketplace and it's consequences, so that good ideas can be found. If we're silent, what hope do we have?

The issues I've raised in iFad and this article will continue to be a theme here at CalgaryUrbanite, and I will try my hardest to track down people more knowledgeable than myself (which should be no problem at all!) to bring insights on this very complex and difficult issue.