Mar 26 2012
One of the first things I noticed about Schor’s book, The Overspent American: Upscaling, Downshifting and the New Consumer, is that it was written in 1998, before most of America knew what a Kardashian was. After seeing her observations, I shudder to think what Schor would write today. Schor talks about Americans’ compulsion to compete in an unwinnable race and the detrimental effects of the obsessive materialism that’s prevalent in today’s society. I certainly saw myself in many of the examples Schor discussed, but I am pleased to say that there are several areas where I didn’t follow in the lemming-like path of many Americans. While there are many brands and companies that I endorse because I’m historically pleased with their product or services, I generally don’t buy brands simply for label recognition or for the sake of some status recognition. This is true especially when it comes to clothes. I buy clothes based on their comfort, their quality and their cost. But where am I guilty? Advertising. I’m an advertiser’s wet dream. I am so susceptible to advertising that I can scarcely wait to try out a new product if I see a commercial that grabs my attention!
I’d be interested in knowing how the statistics from Chapter 5 have evolved since this was initially published. I suspect that a greater number of people have downshifted, both voluntarily and involuntarily since this was originally released 14 years ago. I think the best thing about this book is Chapter 6, where Schor offers detailed, common sense strategies for scaling back on compulsive materialism. In the last year, I have already made some changes in my routines and lifestyles to help and stop the insanity. Most of these revolve around holiday routines. I won’t tell all my secrets here, though. I have to save something for class discussion!
There are many lessons to be learned from Schor’s book. Implementing even just a few of the suggestions she provides could easily pave the way for some great habit-busting life changes.
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