Culture

The Absurdity Of Consumerism

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.

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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


You can keep up with more of what Adam Frank is thinking on Facebook and on Twitter: @AdamFrank4

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