Consumerism is a mental illness

I’ve long had issues with consumerism.  People become obsessed with buying to the exclusion of all other concerns.  I’m not talking about just buying things one needs; I’m talking about shopping because it’s fun, or bargain hunting, or shopping the sales, or hitting all the stores.  There are far too many people who feel they must shop.  Period.

So why do I feel this a mental illness?

Shoppers lined up outside a Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, NY, all night.  The store was scheduled to open at 5am the day after Thanksgiving.  At 4:55, apparently tired of waiting and too impatient to wait another 5 minutes, they beat the doors down and trampled a store employee to death.

When the store announced that they needed to close because an employee had been killed, many shoppers continued shopping.

Some have criticized the store for not having adequate security.  Perhaps this is true.  But while I am no fan of Wal-Mart (I refuse to shop there because I do not like their business practices), I can’t help but wonder, how much security should a store be expected to have?  Should any store be expected to anticipate customers beating down their doors, trampling a fellow human being to his death, and refusing to leave when told to do so?

This is not sane behavior.

On the other hand, stores encourage consumerism by constant advertising, and having sales at ridiculous hours.  My local Kohl’s opened at 4am the day after Thanksgiving, and I’m sure there were people lined up waiting.  When I heard they were going to open that early, I thought that in itself was sick, and I felt sorry for the poor employees stuck working that early.

People, if you can’t keep your values with when you go shopping (assuming you wouldn’t beat down doors or kill someone in any other circumstances), maybe you need to stop shopping for a while.  Stop looking at ads.  Stop listening when other people talk about what they bought.  After a detox period, if you need to buy something, ask yourself, do you actually need it, or do you just want it?

Think about it for a while.  If you just want it, do you really want it?  Or do you just feel like buying something?  You might decide you’d be just as happy without it.  It’s ok to buy something you want occasionally, but think about why you want it.  Would it really bring you happiness?  Don’t buy it if you can’t afford it.  Don’t buy it if it harms others, or if it harms you.  And don’t shop just to get a high from shopping.


  1. Jeanne B.

    Hear, hear! When shopping becomes a life-or-death misadventure, it is time to re-evaluate our priorities and values. When I was in college, I worked one Christmas Season at a major department store (clothing/jewelry) at the mall.
    Lucky me, I was in Customer Service/Gift Wrapping, not out on the floor. Those 16-hour shifts were RIDICULOUS. Nobody should have to work that long, and no store should think it has to be open at abnormal hours just because a holiday is approaching. Retrain the shoppers to come when YOU are open rather than letting them train YOU.

  2. Marcy

    Amen! That was sick. I’ve completely had it with people. Get a hobby, get a pet. Find something to do besides spending money.

  3. Mary E.Dadds

    hi ,
    I would love it if you would write back to me and tell me where you purchased that lovely red couch .
    you posted on it way back.
    I hope im not being rude by asking.
    I like it very much,and im due a new couch,but im holding off til i can pay cash.
    Thanks ,
    Mary Dadds

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