Millennials’ Poor Display Of Consumerism: The Coincidence Which Might Save Humanity
Millennials might be serendipitously preparing humanity to move beyond the growth paradigm central to classical economics. They are doing it through a mix of poverty and ‘woke’ consumerism. To clarify, consumerism is the engine that drives a superficial system which values student loan debts more than educating citizens.
Genuine news, and now clickbait, in the last few years has overused headlines connecting the reluctance of millennials to purchase branded-bullshit to the death of those industries. Apparently, we are not buying diamonds, movie tickets, golf vacations, Buffalo Wild Wings, cars, houses, or home improvement accessories at a fast enough rate for the generations above us to feel comfortable with us. There are many fortunes on the line here, and the PR-lemmings whose job is to convince people to buy whatever they have been told to sell must be panicking.
Millennials, a generation of MURDERERS pic.twitter.com/I7PimFWTaO
— brandon sheffield (@necrosofty) 26 August 2016
But in reality, climate change and ecological destruction are symptoms of Capitalist markets whose only goal is to maximize profits. This mindset builds single-use cutlery without considering that they will only be useful for one meal before taking up space in the consumerist aberrations we know as landfills for thousands of years.
Diamonds literally have the nickname blood diamonds because the industry abuses its African laborers so badly. Hollywood misappropriates billions of dollars to manipulate people’s worldviews, while millions of people still live in such poverty that they would need to work for a month or more to buy a movie ticket in the US. Golf appropriates acres of arable land for the use of the small percentage of humans with the free time and resources to follow a ball around manicured grass and imported sand. Buffalo Wild Wings makes money from the inhumane treatment of animals and feeding people said animals fried and dipped in hyper-sugary sauces. Cars and the highways they require are a blight on the planet, enable dangerous levels of greenhouse gas pollution, and physically kill humans and wildlife alike. The housing market, amoral as it is, puts the profits of the owner class over the humanity of the homeless and struggling renters. And finally, I like going to home improvement stores but the logging industry they prop up is responsible for untold crimes against the atmosphere, this is self-explanatory, and humanity, as loggers in the Amazon regularly kill indigenous people living among the trees the loggers want. Good riddance to all of these industries.
The concept of degrowth emphasizes that the global economy is so massive and destructive that, like the over-powered global financial institutions, it needs to be broken up, intensely regulated, and shrunk. It is not just that people do not need a lot of the technology we value, the stuff is actively pushing us off of a habitable earth. Technological development have done great things for billions of people. The internet and computers connected us to information. Big agriculture proved that humans can grow monolithic amounts of food while still letting children starve. Coal gave horses a break. Dams gave engineers God-complexes. The space-race pushed science forward and improved rocket technology. The list of technological developments and their corresponding benefits could continue but that does not mean that all of these technologies are still valuable.
Humans need nutrients, water, shelter, education, social interaction, and a degree of autonomy. Right now some humans have all of those things in abundance plus any of the gadgets they desire and can afford. Most humans have most of their needs met, but with scarcity. And some humans are just surviving on the scarce resources they can get ahold of by scavenging or working exploitative jobs. Further, the resources used and operations undertaken to build the luxury gadgets enjoyed by the benefactors of neoliberalism poison the atmosphere, land, and water from which neoliberalism’s victims attempt to survive from. It is a nasty, cruel circle overseen by the disattached rich and their families, who can think of nothing more natural than millions of people dying to maintain the luxuries of the ruling classes and their pawns.
The millennial move away from buying the bullshit marketing people want to foist on them may not be entirely driven by a desire to clean up the environment, shut down bad businesses, and scale the economy down to a survivable level but it is a start. It may be the coincidence which unravels the unforgiving global economy. But to manipulate the phenomenon millennials need to explicitly state the goal of boycotting the ruthless logic of market capitalism, and pushing it toward a Cradle-To-Cradle model of production.