September 21, 2011

Consumerism begins at home

Toy vs Toy rooms. Gone are the days when children played without toys. They played with their friends. They found endless joy in stepping outside. Parents or elders found at least a few hours a day to talk to them or to engage them. Why do I even dare make a futile comparison?

We lament about the attention deficit disorders of our children. And about the low attention spans. We are so guilt ridden that every bit of guilt is neatly scrubbed away with a new gadget or a new toy. Added to their already jam-packed toy rooms or play areas.

Birthdays. Yet another avenue to worsen the already bad situation. The other day I attended a birthday party. It was supposed to be a simple affair with just a few friends and their children. Convenience and ignorance can't be tagged together. One is a much desired state and the other is the least desired vice. But, what if they go together?

Snacks were aplenty. All heavily processed. With the number of poisonous chemicals surpassing the number of ingredients. The parents beamed in pride as they took me to the table! What elaborate settings! Including my seven year old, all the kids had a great time devouring the delicacies! So disappointing; not a single item was even remotely healthy. It was really a feast to the eyes with its play of colours. You name it and it is there on the table. But what would you find at the end of that rainbow of colours? Certainly not the proverbial pot of gold!

The kids were playing in the toy room. Or rather a room stuffed with toys? Why does it have to be this way? Why do we buy or allow our kids to be gifted with so many toys? Even if we ignore the scary side effects of these toys, many of them made from plastic or related materials (read toxic), little do we realize that we are promoting a hazardous vice- Consumerism - which can manifest itself in dangerous degrees as the kids of our generation grow up and start making their own choices.

I remember reading about a sort of movement that started in the mid 90s- Which is very well not popular by any scale today. Something like a 100-a year challenge. Wherein people who pledge their allegiance to this movement decide that they will not buy more than 100 things a year! And promise to reuse and recycle as much as possible. I look around and I am pretty sure I can do without at least a few items here. Things which I thought were the sine qua non of my very existense at one point in time, after one or two uses get pushed around here and there. And then one fine day find their way out to the garbage.

Disposable income levels have gone up tremendously for my generation. Am sure many of us will be drawing the kind of paychecks that our parents couldn't even dream of in their days. Even as we grew up with middle class values, even as we got our first jobs, we wouldn't have realized how our lives would change. To the extent that we have become numb to the realities around us. We give in to convenience. To greed. To gluttony. To ill-health and health hazards that aren't far away.

1 comment:

Proma Chatterjee Nautiyal said...

Very nice post...the increased standard of living and the kind of exposure kids today get, have made them more brand conscious and they also happen to constitute a large percentage of the target audience of many industries, be it food, cosmetics, apparels, toys. Its not only the kids, when I was visualizing that birthday table filled with treats I had to control my cravings. So, I believe its self restraint that might do the trick of saving us and the next generation from committing acts of gluttony and falling prey to it! :)

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