The Culture of StuffNoah

Compared to many people, I am pretty well off. While my parents are not rich, I get lots of presents at Christmas and for my birthday. Even if I don’t want many things and evade the crucial question of “What do you want?” I always end up getting more than I ask for, and I like it.

You are confused by the last sentence, aren’t you? He, the person doing an internship on simple living, LIKES GETTING NEW STUFF?!? What kind of hypocritical world is this?

Yes, I like getting gifts. There is something in opening them that gives me great pleasure. It makes me feel powerful and selfish, two feelings I don’t experience regularly. The fact that getting gifts causes those feelings in me is part of the reason that I like getting gifts. I also know that other people experience this effect when they receive gifts. They get good feelings they don’t get from other sources.

These feelings I get when receiving gifts are also experienced when I make a purchase. The only difference is that my money-rather than someone else’s-is exchanged for the commodity. If buying goods gives me pleasant feelings, than why don’t I buy more stuff?

I do not buy many things for a couple reasons. Number one, I don’t have the money to buy expensive things. I don’t have a job. I don’t get an allowance. The only money I ever get is for my birthday or Christmas, and I almost never ask my parents for money. I pride myself in being self-sufficient.

Secondly, I do not associate myself with popular culture. Specifically, I do not have a favorite celebrity that I aspire to be like, because I did not grow up watching television stars promote lavish lifestyles.

In addition, I am not popular. Therefore, I don’t feel compelled to make excessive displays of material wealth to stay popular. I don’t need the Gucci shirts or a fat gold chain. I still care about my style, but style doesn’t need to be expensive.

I believe that the greed inspired by our materialistic society is inside all of us. Ask yourself: Have you never felt pleasant when you got a present or bought something? Even if you didn’t ask for that thing or don’t truly need it, you almost certainly felt great pleasure upon getting it.

I like having stuff. The act of receiving gifts or making purchases gives me a unique sense of well-being that is impossible to deny. Some people get/buy more things than others, but what I do get/buy makes me feel good. Those things remind me of my freedom, made possible by money and the culture we have created: a culture of stuff.

Read more about Noah and other EcoFaith Recovery Interns here.


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The Culture of Stuff (by EcoFaith Intern Noah Gerlach)
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