May Day is one of those minor holiday names that I found amusing in my childhood... every year, it seemed like one classmate or another found it funny to run around the playground screaming “Mayday! Mayday!” until a teacher or monitor told them to shush. Then we'd do it again.
I still find the pun amusing, but only until I remember that we're here for a serious purpose. It's May Day, 2014... and it's time for consumers to scream mayday.
For too long — generations — we've let our lives be shaped, controlled and manipulated to serve a system that regards us as nothing more than economic batteries. We have lost our value as individuals; we are mere draft horses, hamsters in a wheel, generic D-cells powering an economic system that destroys everything it can reach, including our lives, in the name of profits. We have lost our purpose other than to believe we love powering this system with our days and efforts. We have lost our future of being anything other than maximized engines of consumption... and it's time to do something effective about it.
The cry for help “mayday” comes from the French “m'aidez” — “help me.” Every day in a thousand ways, millions of consumers cry for help in one form or another. The problem is that their cries are usually misunderstood and they themselves may not know what help to seek. There is only the sense that something is terribly, deeply wrong and needs fixing... but the great mass of the lost blindly grope for solutions and accept any explanation for their troubles, whether it makes sense, fixes the hurt, or does neither. We are sometimes palliated, but the hurt goes on, as does the damage.
There is now an ear listening for these cries for help, and by visiting this site and reading the material here, you become part of it. Understanding what's gone wrong with our social and economic system — really understanding, not falling for another soothing misdirection that serves only those benefiting from the pain and chaos — understanding the real problem will help you solve your own difficulties and begin to help others.
It's May Day, and after a circuituous route over the past few years, Renegade Consumer is finally ready for public launch. This site is only one public facet; a substantial book is nearing publication as well. Read on, sign on, listen, learn... and begin to contribute as a renegade consumer.
Welcome to the point where it all starts to make sense, and the future — all of our futures — once again become something worth living for.
4 thoughts on “May Day for Consumers”
Well, I'll be interested to see where this goes. I suppose I'm a sucker, too, though possibly a bit limited -- I have had no television for 20 years and I have no credit card debt that is not wiped out monthly. I don't read magazines, not even the e-incarnations. But the chinks in my armor are books and my computer -- they do take money, and the e-books are subject to the evil one click or three clicks, depending on the site.
I pass a TV at work and find that the advertising is hideous -- drugs you should whine at your doctor for an solicitations for participants in class action suits -- can you tell that the goddamned-noisy-box is tuned to FOX?
I presume that much of the energy of Renegade Consumer will be focused on illuminating the myriad ways corporations work to separate us from our money. I hope it also includes a sober and fearless inventory of the aspects of human nature that make us such easy prey.
I recently took a Stanford Continuing Studies course called "The Science of Willpower," taught by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. (http://tinyurl.com/mhpmhp2), author of "The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It" (http://tinyurl.com/oyc4szb). She took us on a tour of the scientific literature on willpower, and much of what we learned about human nature was deeply counter-intuitive. I'll cite one example (of many!):
Wilcox, et al. (2009; http://tinyurl.com/me5jjtm), discovered that the mere presence of a healthy item on a fast food menu or in a vending machine increased dramatically the choice of unhealthy items by consumers. The theory is that of "moral licensing": If we see that we have the option to choose a healthy item, we give ourselves license to choose the unhealthy item this time. Moreover, the inﬂuence of the healthy item on indulgent choice is stronger for those with higher levels of self-control!
So by all means let us build a clearer understanding of what is being done to us by outside agents. However, let us also gain some understanding of the ways in which we make their jobs unnecessarily easy.
Thank you for making the effort to produce this site. I'm looking forward to the book. I've been fascinated with the subject, especially advertising, for many years.
See http://www.addictinginfo.org/2014/05/04/corporate-americas-newest-scheme-to-deprive-you-of-your-constitutional-rights/ for news on how consumer rights are being eroded:
"In 2011, the US Supreme Court allowed corporations the right to deny you the right to sue them. The court’s AT&T v. Concepcion ruling means it’s now possible for businesses like General Mills to create and enforce the kinds of ‘agreements’ the company put in place in April.
"Since that decision, more and more corporations are adopting these types of policies, designed to undermine consumer rights and protections under the law. By purchasing a product, visiting a website, subscribing to an email list or even stepping onto a corporation’s property, you may be unknowingly giving up all of your rights under the law."