In 2007, philosopher Zygmunt Bauman wrote the article titled “The Life of Consumption”. In his pages, the author analyzes the mechanisms and power structures that have led to the transformation of our society into a consumer society. A market society dominated by individuals who are reified and transformed into consumer products that need social approval and recognition to attract attention, attract customers and, of course, create demand. A society alienated by consumerism and voracious capitalism, making us dependent on properties and measuring its value against the capital and assets of its inhabitants.
Fifteen years have passed since Bauman’s book was published, but the reality he drew at the time is still visible in our image of our present. Although it is difficult for us to accept, we continue, governed by the verb “to have”. Our identity is no longer shaped by what I am, but by what I have. People seek, express and affirm what we are with what we have. Moreover, having it is never enough for us. Goods, commodities, commodities, mountains of capital… We do not want the growth to stop, supported by a huge wave of news that demoralizes us every time we blink.
The social pathology of today is addiction to the new. Innovation drives a brand new urge to buy, spend, use and throw away in an uninterrupted and unstoppable cycle that leads us to madness and overproduction of resources. We are collectors of the new and the consumer market has managed to capitalize on our greed. In a few days, this request will be met under an attractive discount banner, numbers printed in red letters signaling the start of use of our credit cards. In this case, ads based on and supporting the Black Friday campaign, and ads that we can generally only confirm as benefiting adults, even though we’re unaware of the exact theories that explain its terminological origins. companies. work. Small businesses with retail distributors will be speechless when their potential customers are once again seduced by the stunning essence of promotions and discounts.
Consumer life is characterized by speed, and it is this speed that governs our forgetfulness. In this hectic reality, we forget as quickly as we buy. On the one hand, we forget everything that is in our closet that eventually creates an ecological situation of unsustainability, and on the other hand, the sales dynamics that benefit large businesses and create greater economic inequality between small and large companies. Our shopping habits can only be adapted to the consumption of poor quality products, so artisans, their own brands, natural and sustainable fiber fabrics, handmade clothes are thrown out of our shopping cart. Products that are too expensive for the demand we produce.
But everything is not negative, we found a possible solution: circular fashion and second-hand clothing. The increasing boom in second-hand shopping in Spain in recent years, especially among young people, has caused the wave of prejudice that accompanies such a dynamic to begin to fade and normalize its use. However, with the increase in demand for such products, the structure of capitalism has seen a new market area, increasing the value of second-hand clothing, which is sometimes even more expensive than first-hand clothing. And of course, big companies aren’t left out either, and they want to reflect on this new opportunity. Stores like Zara are participating in “sustainable responsibility” with a platform called Zara Second Hand, which aims to donate, resell and repair already used clothing. The reason for his speech is being sensitive to the environment, the market reality that we cannot ignore, impact and economic benefit.
Whatever the case, the reality is that we cannot ignore the fact that the purchasing power of the Spanish population has begun to decline some as overconsumption is not only unhealthy, but a luxury and a standard of living has become more expensive. and wages remain constant. Perhaps we should try to satisfy our desire to buy with other kinds of social practices. Let’s hope that our consumer life is not an unconscious and irrational way to compensate for some socio-emotional shortcomings, a way to camouflage the emotional vacuum our society addicted to innovation and forgetfulness is experiencing.