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The Unreliable Guide to… Consumerism

By Nat Shepherd on February 7, 2019 in Other

There’s nowhere to hide, by Leigh Salesman

The Unreliable Guide is fed up with advertising, the proselytising arm of the latest and most insidious religion of them all: consumerism. Don’t believe it’s a religion? Consider and EasterTM. These formally religious occasions are now celebrations of consumption (no doubt to the amusement of Pagans whose Yule and Oestra festivals were similarly hijacked by early Christians). I’m not a fan of religion, but most offer some social benefits. Consumerism, promoted by the demon branch of applied psychology known as advertising, just wants to keep us buying. While the world drowns under a sea of crap, we consume like rats desperate for the lat- est cheese. It’s depressing, but The Unreliable Guide is here with some tips and tricks to show you the way to product-free happiness…


Ads pimp the industry. Like consumerist ‘pushermen’ they keep you hungry for your next fix of product. To jump off the treadmill of consumerism you should avoid adverts altogether, but this is getting harder and harder. Ads are everywhere. TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, films and sporting events all rely on advertising revenue and they stuff in as many ads as they can.

Worse still are the ‘smart ads’ that now infiltrate every branch of social media. Not only have they ruined apps like Instagram, which used to be cool, these Orwellian ads target you specifically. Using data triangulation they can even follow you from device to device. Every time you go online your Google searches, purchases, tweets, and Facebook likes are collected and sifted using artificial intelligence to build your consumer profile. This information not only tells advertisers what you like, but which symbols, words and colours will transform you from a viewer into a buyer. Every ad you see reflects your online presence. Privacy is so last century.


The point of advertising is to persuade us that products equal happiness. The trouble is, this happiness is “for a limited time only”. If that new car, phone or TV made you happy forever, you’d never buy another. Manufacturers keep you buying by: a) ensuring their product will break due to inbuilt obsolescence; and b) using ads to convince you that only the latest is the greatest. Thus massive amounts of resources are wasted on items destined for landfill.

Even if products do bring you joy, that pleasure factor is becoming shorter and shorter. Some- times the thrill wears off so quickly you’ll barely get your new purchase home before you realise it’s just more crap.


I enjoy shopping as much as the next little capitalist consumer, so is it bad if products make us happy? It’s not, if they really do, but what gets my goat is that ads sell lifestyles, experiences and bodies that are impossible to achieve. They market misery and promote insecurity, encouraging us to buy our way to happiness – “Are you the best you can be? No? Never mind, we have just the product to fix you! See how great our model looks!” But these representations of ‘reality’ are so airbrushed that even supermodels don’t recognise themselves. No wrinkles, spots or baggy bits. Adverts use these impossible images deliberately- so we’ll keep striving to attain the unattainable. Failure is certain, but that’s good. If you’re unhappy you’ll keep on buying.

Finally, The Unreliable Guide suggests that you stop being a consumerist believer. Products do not produce happiness. You are “worth it”; you just don’t need it, so don’t buy it. Avoid the mall at all costs and go for a swim or a bushwalk. See the world for real, not represented and revised in 65-inch 4HD. Memories are never last season’s model and you can take them everywhere.