The End of Society as we Know it?

When I’m writing this, it is Monday 2.02 pm. Black Friday is this upcoming Friday. So far today, I have received 9 emails and 4 texts about “Black Week” and how prices are now lower than ever.  We live in a consumption society. Wherever you look, people try to make you consume more. Open your…

Victoria Starberg Avatar

When I’m writing this, it is Monday 2.02 pm. Black Friday is this upcoming Friday. So far today, I have received 9 emails and 4 texts about “Black Week” and how prices are now lower than ever. 

We live in a consumption society. Wherever you look, people try to make you consume more. Open your instagram feed and within seconds a “paid collaboration” disguised as a regular post appears. Or you walk down the streets of Lund and every other store has some sort of sale. You get emails from all the customer clubs you are a member of; trend alerts, special discount codes just for you, it’s singles day (When did that become a thing????), it’s black friday, black weekend and cyber monday. We are a part of a society which tries to make you feel special, and that tries to make you consume more.

We are pushed to believe that Black Friday, together with all other special discount days, are God’s gift to humanity. Or at least God’s gift to the consumption society. However, when looking at the actual statistics, we are being fooled. And wow, how easily we are fooled. Many stores are known to increase their prices just before Black Friday, and then decrease the prices again during the day. Actually, Prisjakt made a study showing that on average, prices decreased with 12 percent during Black Friday 2018. Doesn’t that seem like a smaller price reduction than what the general perception of Black Friday? And it is – because we are fooled. 

In some ways, consumption is a necessity in order to have economic growth(or so we have been taught). No matter how good we want our society to be, financial incentives is a necessity in order to have innovation and development. And in order to enable the financial incentive, we need to consume. In high school we watched the documentary The Light Bulb Conspiracy (great tip, so freaking interesting), which explains how planned obsolescence was created by the light bulb producers, as they realised when producing too long-lasting light bulbs, people would buy less and the profits decreased. Did you know there is a light bulb at a fire station in California which has been shining for 118 years? And that light-bulb was produced before the agreement of planned obsolescence was put into action? And it was the same with nylon stockings. And printers. And washing machines. And smartphones. If the things we need in our everyday lives last forever, we wouldn’t buy newer editions. If the battery capacity in our phones didn’t get considerably worse with time, we wouldn’t buy the latest iPhone. They make it feel like we’re upgrading because we have to and want to, while it is actually they who planned it to be so. 

At the same time, we are the “woke” generation. We want to be better, and we won’t accept the endless consumption we are forced upon. I’m not a Greta Thunberg of EC, I fall in to the consumption trap way too often. Buying a new ball dress is so freaking fun. But me along with our whole generation knows that we need to take action in some way. And the small changes are happening. With the realisation that the society we live in is damaging, we are slowly trying to change things. It might not be changing in the pace we need, but we are taking small steps every day. Just the other day I saw a great initiative which made me smile when scrolling through my Facebook feed. The Weekday store in Lund has decided to skip this year’s Black Friday, in order to have a flea market instead. Giving the opportunity to give new life to someone else’s previously loved items. It’s still consumption, but it’s better consumption. I don’t think we’ll ever stop consuming, and a non-consumption society is not sustainable in other aspects than environmental. But small initiatives such as this flea market makes me smile. Let’s put an end to society as we know it.

About Nådiga Lundtan

Founded in 1948 and has since been an important part of student life in the economics program at Lund University. Nådiga Lundtan covers a wide range of topics related to economics, society, and politics, as well as careers, entrepreneurship, and innovation. It is a platform for students to share their ideas and opinions on economics and related fields.

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