Tag Archives: consumerism

You aren’t as clever as you think you are…

And this blog is here to tell you why not… You Are Not So Smart.

This is one of my favoruites – the myth of not conforming to capitalism by buying non-mass market products.

“You needed to self actualize, to find your own way, and you sought out something real, something with meaning. You waved your hand at popular music, popular movies, and popular television. You dug deeper and disparaged all those mindless sheeple who gobbled up pop culture.

Yet, you still listened to music and bought shirts and went to see movies. Someone was appealing to you despite your dissent.

If you think you can buy your way to individuality, well, you are not so smart.

Since the 1940s, when capitalism and marketing married psychology and public relations, the free market has been getting much better and more efficient at offering you something to purchase no matter your taste.”

Unknown bands are a special sort of commodity. Living in a loft downtown, wearing clothes from the thrift store, watching the independent film no one has heard of – these provide a special social status which can’t be bought as easily as the things offered to the mainstream.

In the 1960s, it took months before someone figured out they could sell tie-dyed shirts and bell bottoms to anyone who wanted to rebel. In the 1990s, it took weeks to start selling flannel shirts and Doc Martens to people in the Deep South. Now, people are hired by corporations to go to bars and clubs and predict what the counter culture is into and have it on the shelves in the cool stores right as it becomes popular.


The disloyalty card

One of the issues plaguing the local tourism industry in the time I’ve been working in Townsville has been convincing people that the best way to grow their individual operation is to grow the pie for their “competitor” at the same time.

It’s as true in coffee as it is in tourism… and it’s probably true in ministry too.

In tourism your goal is to develop first an appreciation of a destination and then compete for the attention of the people who holiday in the region.

In coffee your goal is to develop first an appreciation of great coffee (compared to the average coffee served in the average cafe/diner/McDonalds).

This “disloyalty card” that has been produced by the current World Barista champion is a sensational idea.

The coffee guys are onto something with their focus on cooperation rather than competition. Strong competition and an educated market is a great thing for everybody competing – it’s not great for those left behind with a shoddy product.

The ministry application is probably tangential – but important… obviously there’s a Biblical compulsion to stay with a particular body of Christ (local church) – it’s not a matter of continuous shopping around while you look for the church that best suits you.

Izaac wrote about Godcasting the other day – the act of downloading and listening to sermons from quality preachers.

He envisaged a day where we will be warned off listening to sermons from gifted men by preachers jealous for the admiration of their flocks (or perhaps, more charitably, sensitive to the possibility that listening to exceptional preaching will cause discontent).

I think we should be encouraging Christians to listen to, read, and consume as much great teaching as possible. Chances are that those Christians keen enough to seek out great teaching will be the ones who are keenest to serve their church – rather than critique. And the idea of learning everything from one flawed vessel is scary. I’ll be encouraging everybody who comes to any church I preach at to seek a second opinion on whether my teaching is faithful to scripture. That’s the model we encourage when we’re training preachers and teachers at college isn’t it? Who wants to go to an institution with one lecturer.

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I was walking through Pacific Fair today. It was jam packed. From carpark to K-mart – everywhere was teeming with busy consumerism. And I liked it. Despite what the hippies might say. I buy therefore I am. With that out of the way (and without revealing any purchases made ahead of my family-in-law’s Christmas celebrations in the brighter hours of this morning), I was struck by a thought as I ducked and weaved through the crowds holding tightly to my wife’s hand. Nay. I was struck by three thoughts…

1. There are literally billions of people in this world who I will never ever meet, but may walk past fleetingly in a shopping centre. That could be my sole interaction with them. Ever. Being in the same place at the same time. Competing for that single spare space in the car park – a coincidental intersection in the space time continuum. That is mind boggling. Each of these people has a life, a history, a story of their own… and each has a different reason for being at the shops at the same time as me. Robyn and I were sitting in one of Pacific Fairs many food courts tittering at the idea of standing on the table and doing some street evangelism. What would the police say as they dragged me away on trumped up public nuisance charges? I do like to watch people as they walk around and judge them by their clothes, snippets of conversation and the way they discipline their children. I like to speculate what their life story is. What life is like for them. Why they’re buying 50 rolls of no frills single ply toilet paper in one go (that sentence could do with some hyphenating). Nobody needs that much TP. People watching is fun. I can almost understand the tantalising appeal of reality television at that point. Almost. Only real life is more fun.

2. Krispy Kreme deserve to be famous for their coffee – not just their donuts. Their stores are always immaculately kitted out with cutting edge coffee machinery – and staff who seem to know their way around a Mazzer grinder and aLa Marzocco machine. I guarantee Krispy Kreme will produce a better coffee than any other global franchise. They leave Starbucks and Gloria Jeans for dead. Every Krispy Kreme store I’ve been too has the same coffee kit – and it works like a charm.

3. If I ran a candy store I would be as happy as a kid in a candy store. Lolly shops are great. I’ve only been to one or two in my time that had an owner straight out of Roald Dahl’s “Boy” – a sour, dour old person. Lolly shops seem to attract nice people. How could you not be happy surrounded by so much sugar? If I weren’t so enamored with the other careers I plan to pursue then I would quite happily start up a lolly shop/cafe.

3a. Simply because I want to add an extra point while adhering to my “three points” promise – I’d like to point out that cookie shops always smell the best of all. I love the smell of fresh cookies at cookie man. That must surely be their sole marketing pitch. Krispy Kreme at Pacific Fair hand out little paper hats to children so they’ll wear them as their parents shop. At least their unruly behaviour may draw the eye of passers by. Cookie Man doesn’t need such trivialities. They have an aromatic weapon that works like the pied pipers flute. I did hear at a tourism industry workshop with Tom O’Toole – owner of the Beechworth Bakery – that one of their successful initiatives was to pump the smells from the bakery kitchen out onto the street. If I were to start up a lolly shop/cafe I’d have to think up a similar scheme.