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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
The Absurdity Of Consumerism
Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 3:49 pm
In his 2004 book Cloud Atlas, novelist David Mitchell imagines Nea So Copros, a dystopian future version of Seoul, Korea, in which consumer culture has become its own form of totalitarianism. It's a world where brands and logos become their own form of political power.
The reduction of citizens in a democratic state to consumers in a society defined by their purchases has been explored many times in science fiction. The pull of this idea springs from the ever-growing sophistication and pervasiveness of advertising in shaping all aspects of our culture. The advent of big data — with its ability to identify patterns in oceans of information — has taken customized marketing to new levels, with no end to this trend in sight.
But knowledge is power and resistance can be as simple as a good line of reasoning or a clever song. In that spirit I give you "Sold," a video that came across my desk by accident. It's by Buffalo-based producer Bill Boulden and Laura Grace. As the song says:
I bought a bigger TV
So they could show me the ad
for the smaller PC
than what I already had