9 Reasons I Hate Marketing & Consumerism

– mostly words, some images, 100% opinion –

As a single mother on a budget, I have two conflicting agendas: keep my daughter free from all harm, get food and household products as cheaply as possible.

All good consumers know that products that have the least additives, chemicals and pesticides while having the most nutrition, nature and wholeness cost the most money.

Organic, free-range eggs aren’t even sold at WalMart. Neither is coffee that is grown, processed and traded (fairly) solely by females. And I could be wrong, but I’ve never seen sparkling coconut water on those shelves, or much beverage selection at all not produced by the conglomerates.

This does include one of the most controversial conglomerates which continually makes headlines with the shady practice of buying water from streams that don’t belong to them, making back room deals with people who, while in charge for the moment of representing the counties that do own the streams, may or may not take a cut of the profit, and then this conglomerate sells it back to the people in bottles while their rivers and streams run low.

I suppose we could drink from the tap. Coffee only affects my body and my karma (this has no impact on the child I’m raising – right?). And how harmful exactly are eggs produced on industrial farms where they do the things that people do to chickens that we get upset about?

I’m not 100% certain because I haven’t had the time nor the desire to watch a documentary between the average 2.5 hours spent on public transportation per day, getting gum out of hair with peanut-free peanut butter, cleaning with a sense of guilt about how many chemicals I’m putting on our counters because we ran out of cleaning products the day I had ten bucks in my wallet, etc.

And no, I’m not going to make baking soda into a paste and scour things with old newspapers because trying new things takes time and if it doesn’t work I’ll be forced to clean up after my mess of a try and then take more time to clean the regular way.

Plus, I’ve already bought the damned chemicals because no ‘good’ mother allows 48 hours to pass without having a full supply of cleaning products in her home.

You come over to my house with your free time and clean my counters with glopy paste while showing me how to do it. Bring the baking soda. And the BPA-free containers to store it in.

Anyone who has been a single mom or been raised by a single mom knows what it’s like to eat on a budget. Hot dogs, cheesey boxed pasta, sugary watered down juice, soup, soup, soup, no name white bread, oily cheese slices, and reduced ‘real’ meat on the special days.

I’m tired enough as it is (my body might be nutrient-starved) without having to face the monumental task of being a good consumer in the cereal aisle reading the purposefully mismatched nutrition labels to make the best food decision for myself and my child.

Oh look, organic hot dogs are on sale! That sounds like a good deal. Those things are usually $7 or more a pack. But wait, says a small voice in my heart, can hot dogs even be organic?

And then I start thinking about the two transfers and my one hour bus ride home and carrying the groceries and putting them away and having to cook the food and making sure my child has enough….

Fuck it. Who cares if hot dogs can be organic. It’s on sale. The word organic makes me feel good in the same way images of sipping coffee by the lake in the mountains at sunrise wearing snugly sweaters and stretchy yoga pants and bare feet makes me feel good. 

 
Organic. It’s like a tiny little reprieve I didn’t have to question or feel guilty about or pay for with money I don’t have.

I must ask myself in one form or another at lest 10,000 times per day, “Is this best for my child? Am I being a good mom?”

See, in my personal journey, I started with a decent salary. I once had the luxury of shopping without worrying about having enough.

I spent time researching companies and products. I used to read articles in The Economist and other places about best practise.

I was that mom. The one who bought organic avocados and sweet potatoes and mushy grain cereal when my child was old enough to eat solids. I had a personal blender. I even bought fancy ice cube trays with lids.

Ya, I was that mom. And I didn’t do it because anyone else told me that it was the way to do things. I did it because I wanted the best for my child. My friends made fun of me. Other friends told me to make things easier on myself.

So I started a garden in the backyard. Makes sense, right?

And while I was waiting for the dishwasher to cycle and those zucchini to grow, and that nap to end, I used my free time to read. Not for fun. For knowledge.

Because I like to get as much information as possible to make the best informed decision (could be my journalism training), I’ve read way too many articles and research papers about everything from called-out rotten company practice to the negative impact of not enough vitamin D to feeding a family on $2 a day, to getting kids to love beans, to CEOs being forced to resign to how the oil company that just sunk a tanker in the Atlantic is connected to the company that makes the brand of organic cereal I used to eat, the one that occasionally goes on sale.

I know that cereal in the USA has an average of 20% less salt filler than cereal made by the same companies sold in Canada. Because they can. Because it’s cheaper for the companies. Because our version of the FDA refuses to regulate our salt limits.

I come at shopping with a general attitude that most companies don’t have my best interest in mind because their bottom line matters more than my nutrition and my child’s if there is any conflict.

I come at being a consumer with the attitude that packages, labels, shelf placement, marketing campaigns, etc, are all painstakingly designed using the latest psychological findings about human behaviour.

I’ve seen products labelled 88% organic sold at the same price as 100% organic products.

I’ve caught myself falling into buying habits because I’m tired.

Knowing someone somewhere has made the decision (like creating difficult to compare nutrition labels) to factor in my exhaustion as a win for their company.

My heart sees that as scummy practice.

But even worse than that, the whole industry has committed to creating an experience that manipulates a consumer into feeling warm and fuzzy based on research about our exhaustion and our motivations and our needs and which font makes us feel most like we are making good choices for ourselves and our children.

Because? You tell me. I can guess. But you tell me why.

And I haven’t even touched on the karmic repercussions of purchasing products from companies with policy and practice designed to exploit its customers. And how choice is limited in a small town, especially for a single mom on a budget using public transportation.

I don’t think purchasing daily supplies should be so complicated. So filled with the need to constantly navigate manipulation in order to make sure I am making decisions from my heart, and not from my exhaustion, which loves words like organic, even if I have no way of knowing – in the store where I make my choice – whether that claim is legit.

I can’t know unless I research. And the quality of my personal research depends on the information available.

I don’t see the manipulation of marketing as a necessary evil. Maybe that’s where I differ from most.

There’s nothing wrong with advertising. Letting people know that hey, this product is available and this is what it is and what it does.

Marketing steps beyond that line into telling us why we should like it, why we need it, why we cannot do without it, and it’s all bullshit.

Conglomerates buy large companies to reduce competition, but they don’t cut the product lines.

So on the shelves we have organic products sold by conglomerates with – in some cases – horrific policies and practices. And how does an exhausted single mom keep up with merger news?

But everyone else is doing business this way. How are we supposed to compete? Maybe this is what managers who want to one day become CEOs think about as they lie awake at night.

I don’t know the answer to that question. I’m not in the biz. I’m just a single mom on a budget fighting the crowds at the few grocery stores in this small town.

But, if I had to guess, I’d think the answer to being competitive would be to do exactly the opposite of what makes people feel gross about being a consumer. Rather than cashing in on the whole defeatist ‘we have no choice and limited resources so fuck it’ kind of feeling many consumers have.

I’m not the only one. In fact, if I had to guess without anything to back me up, I’d say I probably represent about 80% of the market. At least 97% of consumers are exhausted, 82% are single moms, and 68% are on a budget.

Compassion Is A Free Will Choice

stream of conscious thoughts about the class war

Why haven’t we called this what it is yet?

We’re in the middle of a class war.

Are we all too hooked by our personal sorrows that we can’t see the bigger picture, and therefore the path to healing?

Yes. My opinion is yes.

The simplest way to describe this clash is haves vs have nots.

This clash is causing serious suffering and it’s time to rise up together.

Not together as in within the groups we feel comfortable identifying with – not together as women, LGBTQ, indigenous people, people of colour, people with mental illness, disabilities, low income, immigration status, or any other group of people who are currently being oppressed in some way.

It’s not a war against each other. It’s not a competition to see who has the most suffering.

All suffering is equal.

Each one of us struggles with a poverty of sorts. There is poverty of finances, power, equality, privilege, respect, understanding, self-love, resources and many other poverties.

While we fight over who has the most pain, the elitists are winning.

The people who are currently in power running the show don’t want you to know one simple thing:

We are stronger together. Always.

We have more power than they want us to realize.

But we need to feel like we have enough in order to give to others. Especially to those we don’t identify with, those we justify ignoring by seeing them as being separate from us.

The more we fight against, the more energy we waste, and the more we affirm our scarcity.

If we felt like we had enough, we would not be fighting, there would be nothing to fight, no struggle.

But there is a struggle. We’re all struggling. And rather than focusing on our similarities, we have been focusing on our differences.

When we focus on what makes us different, we focus on the principle of division.

Do we want to be divided? Do we want to stay pieced out in our separate very small (comparatively) groups fighting for the same thing using different language but only fighting for one group?

If we want to get through this and make a difference bigger and better than we can individually imagine, we need to start working together. Not against such other.

And the place to start is by seeing, understanding, acknowledging, and making and holding respectful space for everyone who is struggling with poverty of some kind.

I’m spinning my wheels because we’re all spinning our wheels. The universe is within me, as it is within you.

This movement will bring traction.

It starts small. Take one step to show the universe that you accept that our suffering is equal.

It doesn’t have to start with believing this about everyone.

Take a look at your neighbour who is struggling to get around in her walker this heavy-snow winter.

Take a look at your co-worker who struggles to pay the hydro as a single mom, while you eat lobster every Saturday.

Take a look at your sister who struggles to get out of bed because she’s fighting depression.

Do one thing today to really break open perception, to accept another’s difference as no better or worse than your difference.

It might just be what we need.

How I Walked Through My Fears of Trump as President 

That gentle voice within saying it will be okay is real

Here are some things that I’m grateful for in my uncertainty about the future:

Walking unaccompanied on an early November evening in light rain conspicuous in my femaleness

Having pretty unlimited access to luxuries like chocolate and organic grapes and fresh water

Being able to voice my opinions under my name using my actual face without fear that I will be jailed or tortured or followed home and raped

Living in a society which allows each individual to have beliefs about themselves, which directly impacts their beliefs about others, and honours universal law

Having a place to go for free where I can get relatively uncensored access to the information that is available

The knowledge that I create my own experience

My faith that love is stronger than fear

My faith that choosing peace and being a role model of lovingkindness in action to all of my fellow humans makes a difference – a real difference – each time I make that choice

The realization that no matter how many times I have scorned myself for fucking up and giving into fear, it was just taking away one single moment, one single action, one single thought of compassion and love

The freedom to choose what I eat and where, limited only by my financial means and past patterns when unchecked

This pen and piece of paper

My heart

My freedom to make choices

You guys, since the USA presidential vote three weeks ago, I have sometimes felt so much fear that my brain starts rolling reels from every fucking WWII movie ever made.

There is so much fear being pumped out right now, but no mainstream broadcast about how the wholehearted and the conscious and the people who choose love over fear every day because of their personal experiences can and will lead us through this.

That the gentle voice inside of you saying that it will be okay is real.

Here’s an example of the fear that has snaked its way through me, and how I have shut it down:

Since we have created a situation (yes, all of us) where the future is a building block, a pristine and beautiful opportunity for authentic change, rather than history repeating itself, the uncertainty of how we will be affected nags at me.

We’ve seen how history worked out under certain rule. But that is over. It does not have to nor will it repeat itself.

Yet, that’s the reel in my head – WWII.

(Never mind the fact that Hitler was very skilled at pretence, and did not run on a platform of hatred.)

Even with this knowledge, my fears fight to be heard.

Now, when I walk by a stranger who is not a white male, I wonder, what can I do to help that person be safe?

Now, when I look at my friends and my family members who are not white males, I think, how far will I have to go to fight?

I ask God, what’s the best way to do this?

And then I look in the mirror.

Shit. I’m a woman. The President-elect of America hates women.

And I go right back to the WWII movies.

My thoughts turn to how I can be a positive, calming role model and leader in an internment situation.

Will my daughter be safest with me or a trusted male?

My fears babble on… I mean, if we are going to be interred, will we also be tortured and murdered?

I get the sense, as a highly sensitive person, that we will not allow it to go as far as murder, and murder isn’t even really on Trump’s agenda, nor was it ever.

That agenda comes from a group that loudly supports him.

But I’m still unsure of walls and I’m not positive that internment won’t be repeated, in my fear.

So, in my nightmares, I have my daughter with me as we are forced to go with the nice man with the gun.

And what if, God forbid, these men – not allowed to kill us, but not held to any moral standard of humanity, if you know what I mean – somehow catch wind of my personal opinions about the definition of true courage?

What if, God forbid, anyone in these hells recognizes my potential for leading a rebellion against the racist, misogynistic agenda that spawned this imagined internment?

Will they even let me in or will they kill me before I arrive?

Should I stop writing online and erase everything in case I need to blend in as regular woman-folk who misogynists see as incapable and therefore non-threatening?

Should I be quiet and play dumb, waiting for the best moment to jump out and yell, Got ya, fuckers!?

No.

Because I know and so do they that if they try to silence me or make an example of me, their actions will give undeniable credibility to my beliefs.

As soon as they give credibility to my beliefs, it makes it real in the mind of others, and they will have a full fledged revolt on their hands.

Electoral college or not, the popular vote went against racism and misogyny and hatred.

There are more of us then there are of them.

And in spiritual truth, there is no’us’ and no ‘them’. We are all one.

And all of my fears fall out.

The sneaky hidden racism has been outted.

The sneaky hidden misogyny has been outted.

The sneaky hidden homophobia has been outted.

I fully believe that not every human who voted for Trump is racist or misogynistic or homophobic.

I fully believe that many unhateful people marginalized by poverty voted for him despite his racism and other hatred.

I fully believe that these people never once believed that Trump would make good on his rants about building walls and killing women’s rights.

These are the same people who would give me (and you) their last five bucks if they saw me begging on the streets.

I know this in my heart to be true.

These people don’t want to see us harmed. These people will stand up against violence that they know as violence.

These people, along with those who voted against Trump, are good people trying their best to make their way through a system that has left them and their families with little to nothing.

So, I say to my fears, fuck off.

So, I say to the media trying to increase revenue, fuck off.

So, I say to the trolls who want to spread hate in an environment they feel is conducive to hate, hey, you are the minority now and I know that’s terrifying but things have to change.

We’re going to be okay.

The sooner we collectively release the illusion of fear about what might happen and tap into that real core of love and peace, the sooner this will be over.

Oh, universe, you challenge me to find peace within chaos? Challenge accepted.

No person will be left behind.

Each person must take action, and I believe that each person will take action.

Don’t wait to take action against something you believe is wrong.

Take action now by doing one thing to reduce the suffering of any person.

Tell the universe now that you choose love.

We’ve chosen authenticity, and now it’s time to choose love.

Real love has four components:

kindness
compassion
inclusion
joy

Your heart will tell you where to start.

I believe in you. And I love you.