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I have for some time noticed it, but didn’t know what to call it until today. Affluenza: the disease of epidemic proportions that causes Americans to sacrifice their health, communities, and families, all for the senseless pursuit of owning stuff, or simply “wealth” to buy stuff. Apparently, there’s a TV show on it, a book, and seminars to help combat it (the friend who introduced me to Affluenza noted that perhaps to buy the book was to demonstrate that you have Affluenza). I love this quote from the Amazon.com book review:
“To live, we buy..all the while squelching our intrinsic curiosity, self-motivation, and creativity.”
Apparently this book won’t teach you anything you don’t already know, but it’s exciting to witness our society finally waking up.
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Do I have affluenza? I score 15 points on the Affluenza Diagnosis Test, which puts me just below having mild Affluenza. Well, nobody is perfect, and it’s not like all posessions are bad. Some of the things that may or may not make me guilty of Affluenza:
- I have a TV…and cable, even though I only watch one or two channels, an average of 1 hour a week.
- My computer is always on.
- I’m using my Air Conditioner today (we have over 100 degree heat index today!)
- My car is a V6, and I drive to work about 4 miles every day at a speed of 30mph.
My personal belief is that if you truly have an intrinsic passion for something, owning a few things that help you exercise that passion is okay. That’s why I won’t count my two guitars, my CD’s, and my book collection. Perhaps I shouldn’t count my computer being on all of the time, because it enables me to exercise my passion for design and for the internet (I believe there is virtue, if used for certain things, in the information classification and transfer that the internet makes possible). Also, working alot of hours has been cited as a symptom of Affluenza, but I do that because I like what I do (not that I never work a few more hours than I’d actually like to).
Of course, the “passion” argument sucks, because someone could say “I have a passion for driving an obnoxious tank that gets 6 miles a gallon half an hour to and from work down the main arterial road of my city,” and that’s not cool. I guess if you’re concerned about it, ask me, and I will tell you whether you should make your purchase or not. I’ll get this all sorted out some day into a solid argument, but until then, just be careful.
A truly fascinating art project related to this from right here in Nebraska: Obsessive Consumption.
Sidethought: I wonder if our economy would just collapse if everyone were magically cured of Affluenza.
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