I'm pleased that so many interesting blogs and well-researched books have been devoted to the concepts that living with fewer possessions can be comfortable and rewarding, that not using shopping as a recreational activity saves money and resources, and that the choices we make as consumers have an impact not only on us but on others and our remarkably bounteous planet.
It's also great that there are entertaining and informative films and videos on the general topic of "stuff" that are readily available to view online. For example, take a look at The Story of Stuff, a popular film that's captured the attention of the personal organizing blogger community.
And if Oprah is talking about clutter and devoting show time to the serious problem of hoarding, it surely seems like we must have hit critical mass when it comes to stuff awareness.
Yes, I feel hopeful that we're building a stronger movement in the direction away from the often quoted 1980s pronouncement that "greed is good" (Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street, written by Stanley Weiser and Oliver Stone -- must credit the writers!).
However, just when it seems that a corner has been turned and that people are finally getting a little perspective on the difference between want and need, I can count on the LA Times to slap me with a dose of reality. Of course, that's "reality," LA style.
In today's business section (the business section!) there was an article by Kimi Yoshino called, "It's How, Not Whom, You Call," explaining that in Los Angeles, "the cellphone is the ultimate status symbol." Turns out you can make your multi-picture deal (well, not until after the writers' strike is settled) while negotiating on a $1,200 Bang & Olufsen Serene or you can power your way to the top of movie moguldom on a diamond-laden, 18-karat gold GoldVish Illusion for anywhere from $28,000 to $171,550. (In many parts of the country, couldn't $171,550 still buy a condo?)
But in this same business section of the Times, there are reports that Washington Mutual Bank was "hurt by mortgage write-downs," weak holiday sales forced the closure of several retailers, "rising fuel costs and a slumping economy will create conditions ripe for consolidation" among airline companies, the Dow dropped 306 points, and (referring to an article that hit page one of the newspaper) a $100 billion "stimulus package" is being suggested to boost the country's economy, "provided the money was funneled to people who would spend it quickly, according to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke."
Well, if Mr. Bernanke wants to slip me a large enough chunk of that package, I know where I can get a fast deal on a really fine looking cell phone. I just wonder if it will still drop my calls.
© 2008 Cynthia Friedlob