I’m really lucky. Every day, without much thought or effort, my basic needs are met. I get to breathe clean air, eat food whenever I want (and it’s almost always healthful, nourishing, and delicious — although those do take considerable thought and effort), and sleep on a comfortable bed. I am safe walking down the street. I have freedom to express my ideas and opinions. I have friends and family who love and support me. And lots, lots more.
I’m not saying this to gloat, I’m saying it because it’s really easy to forget all of these things. It’s in our natures to become accustomed to whatever level of, well, anything it is that we’re repeatedly exposed to, and to continually re-set that as our “baseline” perspective.
I recently received an email invitation from a public relations company about a recipe promotion for one of their clients. When checking it out, I clicked on a link to the firm’s website. Front-and-center on their homepage is the slogan: “Inspiring consumption, one creative idea at a time.”
Seriously? We really need to hire companies to inspire consumption?
There’s just something downright nasty about the word “consumption.” It implies that we’re never satisfied, that we never have enough, that we’re all just here to take and take and take. Is that the best inspiration we can muster? Your spirit will be exalted if you just buy/have/eat/do more! …more, More, MORE!
That tagline, with its two efficient words, lifts the veil behind so much of our society’s current perspective on marketing and business. I’m not saying that all marketing, advertising, or business is awful, mind you – quite the opposite, in fact: I believe that advertising can truly elevate rather than denigrate, when done right and with the right companies.
What’s oddest about this choice of words is that most of the clients featured on their website are growers and suppliers of whole, unprocessed foods. These are normally the PR opportunities I jump at, since they’re real, from-the-ground foods! (I turn down a lot of requests for processed stuff; I’m not quite sure how I got on those email lists!)
So why not say “inspiring health” instead? (I’m sure the PR pros could come up with some better verbiage, but you get my point.)
This also resonates particularly strongly amidst the onslaught of “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” deals already flooding my inbox, creating the nagging feeling that I need to buy more, eat more, drink more, and have more more more to be happy. And all those emails and ads sure aren’t what I’d call “inspiring.”
So this holiday season (and anytime, really), instead of asking yourself, “How much more can I have?” How about asking, “Do I have enough?”
If the answer is “yes,” then be thankful. I sure am.
“Bone for Turbo” © 2005 Rachel Gardner. Used under creative commons license.
So true…did I have enough versus how much more can I get! Greed never satisfies!
nice post for Thanksgiving
I’ll answer your question very directly: Yes, I have enough, in fact I often feel I have more than enough. With 1 out of every 5 children in America living in poverty, I reflect on what the holiday season really means. While I prepare a lot of my Thanksgiving dishes today, I reflect on those who often go to bed hungry and wake up hungrier the following day. We are so blessed to be able to “choose” to eat in a healthy way. For many, the foods they eat are not a choice but sheer sustainance.
well put. Happy Thanksgiving.
It’s interesting that consumption can also refer to a “consuming” disease, that leaves you unable to consume anything.
Thanks for this post. I am so thankful for all in my life and agree with the sentiment here. As a marketer, I think this firm is really doing their clients a disservice and maybe it was just a poor choice of words, but it does send a message.
I agree, we don’t eat much on the holidays. We don’t shop at on the either of those we do it slowly. But why are these people letting them be pushed into this, thats what I can’t understand. Its not a struggle to stop going out on Friday, its a good feeling, to just stay home and eat well. But you are so right.
Perfect post! Thanks for this. I’m feeling the same way about Black Friday/Cyber Monday. There is very little I *need* to go out and buy, but feel almost forced into the shopping ritual just because. But I think this gives me the strength to resist! To stay at home with my family, cook something healthy after a filling Thanksgiving day, and be content and happy 🙂
Thanks for a wonderfully worded reality check! Much appreciated.
Thank you for this! Conspicuous consumption has been the defining characteristic of our culture for pretty much my entire life. It’s the source of pretty much all of our resource problems. It’s why our economy shifted from being production-based to consumer-based (despite the fact that our entire history shows us that a production-based economy would be much better for us!)
Also – given that it was PR pros who came up with the “inspiring consumption” tagline – don’t assume that they can come up with something better than tour “inspiring health” tagline that you wrote. “Inspiring health” is what you do, in a nutshell.