The world screams at me, “CONSUME!”
I shriek back, “No!”
I plant my feet so that I am grounded but my hands fling about, going between covering my ears and shooing away the world’s pleas. “I don’t need those things! I don’t ‘need’ anything but the essentials: water, food, and shelter!”
“Don’t you want fame?” the world asks, “Don’t you want beauty? Don’t you want material luxury goods?” The world proffers me images of a gorgeous Instagram feed featuring myself with a much tinier waist and much flatter stomach, decked out in brand name clothing and equipped with the latest technology.
“No,” I protest, shaking my head at these images. “What I have is enough. It is more than enough. I am drowning in privilege as it is already.” I point to the notebook upon which I draft this. This is just one notebook in my collection, which represents how easily I can access paper when others are starving. Thoughts become written sentences easily because I am educated and have learnt how to use language to express my opinions. I can write leisurely on topics of interest as I do not have to work. I am writing with a pen I got while on vacation in England.
“But don’t you want more? More clothes. More food. More follows. More attention. More time. More flavours. More beautiful photos,” the world nudges me.
The world has a form now. It is No-Face from Spirited Away, a Japanese animated film that I watched recently. No-Face is a mysterious spirit that seeks attention from the film’s protagonist, Chihiro, jangling gold at her in an attempt to win her over.
“Don’t you want this?” No-Face/the world chants, gold nuggets clattering to the floor as they spill out of its hand. “It’s gold!”
Unlike Chihiro in Spirited Away, my reaction is not so composed.
Sometimes I drown. I am subsumed. I have dreams of starting a massively popular blog, my face featured in a circular photo that accompanies my article which is circulated everywhere on social media platforms. Or, I dream of an Instagram post with follows and likes in the hundreds, proudly proclaiming that I have achieved some #fitnessgoal and declaring my state of #bodypositivity. I dream that uplifting, motivated posts like this will garner me a large enough audience to gain sponsorship so that future posts can feature me in stylish branded clothes with #sponsored.
When I am stronger, I resist. I write shit-on-the-world pieces like this. I promptly rebuke any statements by other around me, challenging their perception of “need” regardless of whether the time or place is appropriate or whether they have used the term for a serious matter. My critiques are not necessarily productive but I retaliate anyways, striving to take down this overwhelming consumerist society around me, one interaction at a time.
At these times, I wonder if my fight is worth it. What did I achieve? it seems that I have stirred up more discord in my interpersonal relations than I have forwarded a message of minimalism or sustainability.
Is it worth it to be critical like this? Wouldn’t surrendering and letting things slide be easier, in my interpersonal relationships and my life generally? Could I not still live that way?
I don’t think it would be the right way though.