Friday, 13 January 2012

Modern Consumerism and Buyer's Choice

With the introduction of the 'Boycott Sopa' app, information instantly available to consumers is set to change.

Knowledge is power. And for consumers that power comes from where they choose to spend their money.

If you want to update Marxism you might say that, as well as using workers as the means of production, consumers are used to convert produce into money. Workers control the means of production and consumers control the profit, so a boycott is a strike further along the chain.

Our culture still tends to see workers as possessions of employers, but that view is changing as more and more people start thinking about ‘work/life balance’. Even the term infers that your work no longer defines you (cf. Fight Club “You are not your job” and such reactionary institutions as HM Queen and the quiz show Fifteen to One that categorise people entirely on the basis of name and occupation).

On the surface consumers are celebrated for their independence, but companies use all manner of tricks to maintain ‘customer loyalty’. In reality ‘loyalty’ is mostly inertia. Evidence from the fossil record and from evolutionary psychology suggests humans have flourished because we excel at adapting to change, but it doesn’t follow that we crave it. We cope by being very good at re-establishing stability once it’s been lost. Marketing and sales people play on our instincts to manoeuvre us onto plateaus they create for us - farmed salmon in sea-cages thinking ours is the whole ocean to swim in.
By becoming aware of the nets we make them disappear. We must overcome our fear of the ocean and head out for the deep water of freedom.

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