THE CONSUMER SOCIETY AND THE TRAGEDY AT LITTLETON COLORADO

Consumer Culture Editorials
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Understanding money, debt and income. Deceptive advertising and marketing manipulation, how to get the best values, the Columbine tragedy, and even a little history of mass marketing. Editorials by Rick Doble, Editor.
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15.0 THE CONSUMER SOCIETY AND THE TRAGEDY AT LITTLETON COLORADO; CONSUMER CULTURE ARTICLES, FROM SAVVY-DISCOUNTS.com

Just about everyone has tried to explain the recent events a Columbine High School in Colorado. Now SAVVY-DISCOUNTS.com will take its turn.

This tragedy happened for many reasons. Commentators have pointed to blood curdling violence on TV and in the movies, realistic video games that accurately taught children how to kill people and easy access to guns. Yet at the heart of the murders and suicides there was something else. At the heart the two young men were involved in a misguided quest for identity in a society where they felt they had no identity. In murder and mayhem they found the recognition they craved because we all now know who they were and what they did. But why did they have to go to such extremes?

Young people in particular need a sense of belonging, a sense of uniqueness, a sense of place. A feeling of identity comes from these things. But how do you get this in a consumer society?

It is almost a cliche to say that many teens feel alienated, hopeless and angry. Why is this true when families have more money and a higher standard of living than every before?

To paraphrase from a novel written about 10 years ago called Generation X (yes, this novel coined that term), "It doesn't matter where you are from any more. All the malls have the same stores." Kids often live in new suburbs with no character or traditions. Many schools, class rooms, homes, roads, parking lots, shopping centers, playgrounds, cars, fast food restaurants look pretty much the same.


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When a kid's parents get bored they move to a different suburb, get a different job, or trade in their old car for a new one or trade in their spouse for a younger model!

Yet we are not mass produced interchangeable consumer products; we are unique individuals. Friends, family, work, home and community are not easily changed without wrenching emotions and consequences.

Just about all kids have seen thousands of hours and thousands of pages of advertising by the time they become teenagers. Advertising often sells a sense of identity: just smoke this cigarette and you will be a rugged individual, just use this perfume and boys won't be able to stop thinking about you. If you only buy, buy, buy you will find the identity that you lack.

My very smart readers know that saving money, as we show in SAVVY-DISCOUNTS.com , is not an outdated old fashioned idea, but a way to take control of your life. Instead of being sold a false and hollow identity, I believe my readers choose for themselves what they need, what the best value is, and how best to spend their money. They might buy new or used; it really doesn't matter. They have a clear sense of their own identity and don't need expensive advertised products to give it to them.

Most teenagers have only known a prepackaged world of TV sit-coms, endless fast food restaurants, malls and designer clothes. But the promise of this world is empty and at times tragic.

15.0.1 YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST

Well, okay, maybe we weren't the only ones to say this, but we were one of several and we arrived at this conclusion independently.

In Vol 5 #3 (August 1999), we said about the shootings at Columbine High School, "It is almost a cliche to say that many teens feel alienated, hopeless and angry. Why is this true when families have more money and a higher standard of living than every before? Young people in particular need a sense of belonging, a sense of uniqueness, a sense of place. A feeling of identity comes from these things. But how do you get this in a consumer society? ...The two young men were involved in a misguided quest for identity in a society where they felt they had no identity. In murder and mayhem they found the recognition they craved."

On October 15, 1999 USA Today, in a review of the movie Fight Club, said this, "For the past decade cultural observers have noted a widespread depression and explosive anger among men, particularly young men, that reflects feelings of ... inadequacy in a consumer based, celebrity-obsessed culture. Disturbing evidence of this dark social mood is reflected in the recent outbreaks of violence committed by young men with guns and bombs in schools..."


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