Marketing people are always spouting off about how they can classify consumers according to what they buy and consume. Even Fugazi referenced this prospect once (“Never mind what’s been selling, it’s what your buying!”) This is common knowledge in the marketing/pr field, but today I think I might’ve made myself unclassifiable as a consumer. Here is the sum total of my purchases for today:
1 original framed needlepoint wall hanging that reads ‘The Rat Race Is Over and The Rats Have Won’ (used and found at the Salvation Army)
1 new jump rope from the dollar store (I actually broke my last one being sloppy, but that’s another story….)
1 package of Ant Poison (also from the dollar store)
1 Boy Scouts of America ‘Tiger Cub’ t-shirt (also used and found at the Salvation Army)
1 crispy Sesame Veggie Chicken and Beef entree (from Veggie Heaven in NJ)
What does this make me? Someone with an ant problem that’s given up on the world and wants something to remind them of that for their wall? Someone that doesn’t mind wearing used t-shirts from an organization that frowns against individuality but can teach you how to tie a lot of knots? Or someone that most likely doesn’t eat meat and also likes jumping rope? I guess I’m all that and a lot more.
Still, it makes me realize that if you list out your purchases for say, one week’s time, your perception of yourself as a consumer will probably differ drastically from your perception of yourself as a person.
And this leads to a much bigger question concerning capitalism. Does it help one connect more directly to an identity, or does it detract or complicate from one’s identity? If you’re into, say, Rage Against the Machine and riding Element Skateboards, and you make a point to go shopping for products from both camps on one particular day, and succeed, then you do connect more with the identity you seek. But if you’re into Rage Against the Machine and Element Skateboards, but do not choose to seek out products from both camps on one day, and instead go to the Salvation Army, the dollar store and Veggie Heaven in Parsippany, NJ, you probably are detracting and complicating the identity you seek to establish (even if it is only to the eyes of economists and marketing gurus that are studying what you buy.)
See what I’m saying? We’re constantly being defined by what we buy, so people can understand us and sell us more stuff. It’s a complicated cycle that ultimately involves a good deal of psychology, and I don’t want to be a part of it. I’d rather be the confusing 0.001% that doesn’t make any sense on paper…
By the way, I am not a fan of Rage Against the Machine. I’m glad they opened up debate on a lot of serious topics to a generation of morons, but I still think their music sucks. And Element, well, it’s a piece of wood with someone from MTV’s name on it. Do I really need to explain why it’s just an example and not an obsession to me? Good then…