To a poor man, more is better, and all humans throughout history were poor compared to the wealth we enjoy. Now that we have lived in the fossil-fuel window for longer than anyone can remember, we live in comfort our ancestors could not have imagined, yet we keep pursuing more.
Now that online shopping and the technology supporting it have ramped up commercialization and supercharged consumerism, we’re facing existential crises.
Progress is entirely incommensurable with precaution, with a ‘No’ to recklessness. It’s time to say enough to progress and begin to reorient our political narratives around a precautionary logic.
Ultimately, trying to free the ship, or even convert it to run on green fuels or the latest in sail technology is treating the superficial layers. Instead, we need to dig deeper (yuk yuk).
When did something as simple as soap get so complicated? How did we get suckered into thinking we needed 17 different substances just to clean stuff?
2020 was a year lived in fear—fear of the surprise arrival of a novel coronavirus, of not understanding it, of getting it, of watching a loved one get it—never being sure if they’d survive.
Few books have had the scale of impact on me as this one. It took me 5 days to read and revealed a world that was completely unexpected and quite new. Zuboff is aware that what she writes is about something novel and unprecedented. It is unlike what has gone before. That is what makes us vulnerable.
The stuff we humans buy is a disaster for the planet we love. Livestock intended for human food now make up 60% of the total weight of mammals on Earth, while wild mammals make up only 4% (the rest is humans and pets). The global clothing industry is responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the emissions from entire European Union. Single-use plastics are choking the oceans. Transportation (including the cars we drive, but the semis that cart our products to stores) accounts for almost a third of U.S. emissions.
The questions posed by the ecological crises – notably the climate emergency – are a series of provocations. These questions drive us back not only to intimate connections between our actions and the fate of the earth and our atmosphere, but to the intimate realm of our attention and capacity to care both individually and collectively.
Human beings are at their worst when they are consumers, locked into the miserable pursuit of satisfaction through the isolation of individual consumption – particularly when that shopping and consuming is done online (and when, as with Instagram, we learn to turn ourselves into commodities). T
In the past, we did not need to make a big deal of enough; it was built into our lives in many ways. Our language recognised it in phrases like ‘enough is as good as a feast’, and ‘waste not, want not’. But in modern life the sense of enough is badly underdeveloped; in affluent societies we have largely forgotten the wisdom captured in the old sayings.
The older I get the less I enjoy having stuff. When we moved three years ago it was shocking to find how much stuff we had accumulated, and how much work it took to pack and move it.