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Zoebird
10-28-11, 3:35pm
Ok, I'm not sure that this goes in this area, but I gave it a punt. :D

I'm on FB with all of my high school friends (or many of them), and man, they are a funny bunch. :D

They buy a lot of stuff, because nearly every day what they bought is reported on FB. But today was particularly funny.

Two of my friends had a huge stream about cars. Both of them drive SUVs with "hemi's" -- I don't know what a hemi is, btw, except some engine thing. They were making fun of people who are driving hatchbacks like the fit and so on.

They were using a lot of words like "losers" and "not safe cars with so many SUVs on the road" and the like.

To change their perspective a bit, the hatchback is KING here in NZ.

Here's why. A prius costs $45,000 new. a used 2007 prius (the year that we had in the US) is $25,000. A first generation, 1999 prius, costs $10,000.

A new Splash (which I think is a toyota) -- which is a small hatchback -- costs an affordable $17,500 new. This is pretty much the lowest price point for new cars on our market. :)

Most people here buy used cars. There's a massive market of used cars. Having a car is considered an awesome privilege, as far as i can tell. It's not something that everyone has. Most people have one, and most people drive tomatoes.

We are buying a 1997 Honda station wagon. It's $2k, and that's our budget. No debt to get this car (my friends are either paying their cars off over 5 years OR leasing!). If ever we "upgrade" we are going to "upgrade" to a $7k used car that's a bit newer. You know, from the 2000s. LOL

So, i'm trying to explain to my friends that there is a completely different way to think about stuff. Cars, clothes, everything. stuff.

Things here are precious. Recycle, fixing, reusing, repurposing -- that's common practice. most people buy used clothes, used furnishings, used cars, used roller derby gear.

Used is all things here.

I live in a pretty wealthy neighborhood, and people do buy new things (peter jackson, for example, lives in our hood, and drives a beautiful, new mercedes benz -- but seeing as he's probably the wealthiest man in NZ, and the car probably costs more then the GNP, you know, he's welcome to it. it's within his means! he also hires most of the people in wellington from what i can tell!). BUT, you'll find these same people at the OpShops (thrift stores) looking for furnishings, dishes, clothes, coats, shoes, and roller derby gear. It's just a huge part of this culture.

There are things that my friends in the states wouldn't deign to do. They give their excess to the OpShops, they don't' shop in them! Buy a used table? a used fridge? a used bed! what are you, nuts? a used car from 1997!

Only losers, only losers!

Anyway, just trying to open up a dialogue about culture and how the cultural shift can happen for people. I know that we "frugals" and "simplicity" folks are "odd balls" -- b ut that's kinda way-of-life in NZ, and I bet in other places as well.

What would it take for the shift?

lhamo
10-28-11, 4:24pm
NZ sounds more and more like paradise every time you post!

It is interesting to consider this question from China, where the culture is undergoing a huge and extremely rapid shift in the direction of rampant consumerism. Like the transition that took place in the US post WWII, but on crack. People here think of generations in terms of decades (which generally track the political ups and downs of the post 1950s) and there is an interesting discourse emerging about the "post-90s" kids (those born after 1990, now in their late teens/early 20s) and how consumer and status oriented they are. I'm pretty sure there is a lot of that "loser" talk among them. Brands are everything. Apple is king. Nevermind the fact that producing Ipads, Ipods, etc. is literally killing their less fortunate migrant worker peers (lots of toxic chemicals used to make them smooth and shiny that get breathed into their lungs, etc.).

In contrast, older generations here are still loathe to throw anything out. We have constant battles with my MIL to keep her house from becoming overflowing with junk that she keeps because she "just might need it one day." Very similar hoarding mentality to that you see with people who survived the depression in the US. Oh, they are huge savers, too. China has one of the highest rates of savings on disposable income anywhere in the world. Asia in general is very high. That is also probably changing as the new generation matures into an age of mortgages (until 10-15 years ago most peoploe bought property with cash), car loans (private car ownership didn't exist 20 years ago), and credit cards (another development of the past decade).

Interesting and somewhat scary time to be here. There is a small environmental/anti-consumerist movement, but it is definitely not the mainstream.

Must seriously consider moving to NZ :)

lhamo

puglogic
10-28-11, 4:35pm
Zoebird, I know exactly what you mean. I have a different-but-similar situation here.

We live in an inexpensive place in an affluent town. So we see quite a bit of conspicuous consumption, much more than we'd like. BUT it's also a place where there is a respectable voluntary simplicity movement, so you see a lot of freecycling, a lot of recycling in general, a ton of fuel-efficient cars built for tough conditions (the most popular here, from looking around, seems to be the Ford Escape Hybrid), a big organic food/local food movement. Well-balanced politically, etc.

When I go back home to Michigan, I find many more people who lease gas guzzlers, drive "hemis" (gas guzzlers), waste resources, waste food, generate enormous amounts of trash, trade up their electronic gadgets hourly, etc. It gets to me, but I leave quickly enough so...

I'm not sure I'd want anyone part of my tribe who referred to my lifestyle as that of a "loser." That shows me so much about these people: Not just wasteful, but immature and ignorant as well. No offense.

Like you, I love my lifestyle. It's rich with friends and family and time and experiences. I wouldn't trade it for anyone else's that I know. And it's simplicity that makes that possible.

Stella
10-28-11, 4:42pm
I live in a place much like your neighborhood Zoebird. This actually where I grew up too, so most of my old friends have similar posts to mine. A few from today were things like "Baking cookies with the kids! 14 month old was no help, LOL, but the big kids did a good job" or "Bread is rising, pies are baked, spaghetti sauce is done. Time to rest" or "Thanks for the birthday wishes! Family is coming over tonight for pizza, beer and cake. It should be a good time!" Along with a smattering of articles about various social causes and photos of people in Halloween costumes. One girl blogs about her crafts and recipes and her life as a professional ballroom dancer. Another girl who is a poured metal artist posted a picture of a sculpture her daughter had made from recyclable materials. Another girl posted about the novel she is writing. People here just rock. They really do.

There was one mention of a car. "Crap! My car caught on fire! Now I have to buy a new one. I hate buying cars!" LOL. A good reason to buy a new car, for sure. That girl is a surgeon and pretty careful with her money.

I think our kid's generation may end up being more conservation oriented and thrifty, actually. A lot of them have seen the consequences of overspending. Even most of the teens and early twenties kids I know have had a serious reality check in the last couple of years and are living very differently. A young couple I was friends with from my time in L.A. who I was quite worried about for a while, spending their money on crazy expensive cars and toys, have downgraded from a Tahoe to a Hyundai they got for $1000 and now spend most of their free time and money taking care of his aging grandmother who lost all of her money.

This may just be my neighborhood again, but a teenage girl I was working with last year was telling me how she and her friends trade dresses for dances so they can wear something different, but save money. They spend their free time watching old episodes of Friends (which they think is vintage and cool :) ), share cars with their parents or bike instead of having their own and love thrift stores.

I think things are shifting. I've read a lot of articles about Generation Y and how they don't view cars as status symbols and a lot of them prefer to be car-free for environmental reasons. I've read articles about studies they've done on their housing preferences and they tend to look at location as more important than square footage.

Zoebird
10-28-11, 6:54pm
So it is just that former crew? :D Honestly, i've had to "don't show posts" of a lot of folks because, like good lord. "Maddy tried to tape her pictures *right o the wall!* today! good thing i caught her before hand and gave her a good swat before she ruined the paint job!" Then, the house could fit about 70 comrades. ;) heh (i'm seen as the weird commie one who doesn't punish her child -- no need for punishment imo).

anyway,

(hold on, FB status on the boards time: my kid just handed me a piece of chocolate that he got from a neighbor and said "i want an apple instead. it's organic!" oh yes, perhaps 78 comrades could fit into my FB friend's house!).

one of my favorite (new) activities is going to swaps, and there's a even shop here that does a shwap! so, like those teens who trade dresses, a lot of women get together and swap clothes, and donate left overs to the op shops, so then someone else can buy them!

For the shwap, there's a designer -- Starfish is the brand -- and she uses organic/fair trade and locally made product, designs and doesn't mass produce. When she holds her annual Shwap, you take back any clothes made by her, which she then recycles into accessories and bags, and you get a voucher for a $ value that you can spend in her shop! It's a pretty cool deal. I can't afford the clothes to begin with (and I don't like the designs that much anyway), but it's still a cool idea. :)

iris lily
10-28-11, 7:26pm
I've always thought that New Zealand would be the one of a very very few places I could move to, sight unseen, and be happy. The South Island, please.I think of it as being like the US in the 60's except it's got state of the art electronics.

Zoebird
10-28-11, 7:33pm
yeah, just about that. there are lots of GORGEOUS places in NZ. The south island is very diverse in beauty, climate, etc etc. some beautiful places out there.

Stella
10-28-11, 10:06pm
Zoebird I love that shwap idea! That is great!

I would have a hard time keeping facebook friends like those too. Ouch! They do not sound like very nice people!

I think this is just one of those places, and it sounds like NZ is the same, where frugality kind of never went away. My corner of the city has always been home to immigrants and artists, so there's a lot of frugality and creativity around. We've kind of got that Scandinavian efficient, but quirky thing going on too. I kid you not, they are trying to build a statue of a pierogi on a fork in a community garden not far from my house. If that doesn't peg us as wierdos I don't know what would. :)

It's my L.A. friends who've surprised me the most. I think in part there's been a shift among that crowd because California has been hit with some pretty high unemployment rates. I'm sure it varies depending on the area.

New Zealand is definitely on my list of places I'd like to visit. Someday!

granola19
10-28-11, 11:26pm
An interesting post! A couple of interesting observations from my life:

We currently live in an affluent Colorado town. There is certainly poverty here, but overall, education rates are high and most people do pretty well for themselves (middle class and up I guess). Here, freecycle, recycling, thrift, local/organic food, and self-sufficiency and green living are HUGE. We are actually in the "lower" class but we love it here for those reasons. Many people bike commute, are one or no-car families, garden, have chickens in their backyard ect.

Contrast that with where my DH is from in South Carolina. It is a very poor town, low income, low education rates, ect. However the waste here is incredible. Yards are filled with unused junk, yet you could tell it was bought recently. Satellite dishes hang off of many roofs in need of dire repair. Despite very low income there are LOTS of SUVS, those hemi-trucks and some luxury trucks. As a consequence, the payday loan business is big there as many are in way over their heads. A lot of very large yet shoddily constructed homes in addition to the trailers, ranch homes and farm houses. Yet I can tell you everybody there has a new large car, cable or satellite television, new clothes from Walmart and the latest cell phone.

It seems so strange - low income = high consumption, high income= less consumption. Although education is also a large factor it seems.

Zoebird
10-29-11, 12:22am
i think the economic/education/consumerism thing though may be -- in part -- cultural.

"living beyond one's means" seems to be a symptom or result or some such of a culture that is "reaching" for something. Do you know what I mean?

for me, a good example is weddings.

if we go back to the middle ages, the upper classes had weddings. they were the ones with marriage contracts, dowries, and the wedding that demonstrated their wealth and prestige. In the same era, the common people did not have weddings. They did have marriages, and it was the rise of "common law" marriages. Often, they would get a simple church blessing (for catholics and related, the sacrament of marriage), and make a small donation to their church. Legal marriages happened outside of the church, after several years of cohabitation (and usually children).

with the rise of the middle class -- coming out of this era -- we have the introduction of weddings for middle class families -- who were often trying to "marry up" and/or demonstrate their wealth over their fellow middle-classers with a show of ostentation.

I think that this still persists today -- ideologically. The wedding is about prestige, in a sense, or showing off -- particularly for those whom are not making contracts and/or passing along dowries etc.

So, perhaps this is part of the equation -- the ostentation of "stuff" demonstrates the "i have more wealth than you, even if i'm not as wealthy as the upper class" -- and somehow this has personal and social value for people.

And i think that there is a counter-culture of folks who just wanted to be pragmatic, and who are finding a lot of value in being more self-sustaining and less ostentatious.

---

And NZ's history is interesting.

You have to imagine what it might have been like when people first started colonizing here in earnest in the late 1800s. Victorian people, seeking a new horizon and opportunity, taking a very long boat ride (several months) with as many possessions as they could bring (they were encouraged, for example to bring at least two windows, but that there was timber enough to build the house and door, but nothing from which to make windows), but every ship had limited capacity. And, you were lucky if your windows made it to NZ.

Everything that got here -- from anywhere else -- took a long time to get here, was in limited quantities, and absolutely would be reused in every way humanly possible. Everything here is *precious*.

And I think that's part of the reason why the culture is about all this second-hand stuff. It's just been thw ay of life forever. People didn't even have flights to the south island from the north until the mid 1960s, and the Haast pass which gets you from the wild west coast of the south island into the interior, was only completed in the late 1980s. When my aunt read about it, looking at the pictures she was certain that it must have happened during the great depression era of the US -- and was shocked that it was only 3 decades ago!

So, what a lot of people take for granted in other places -- easy transportation, or the availability of windows -- is simply not something taken for granted here. Any little thing is actually a big deal. When we found out our house had insulation in the ceiling, we were PSYCHED. it was awesome. It's pretty common to have zero insulation in a home here, and it's considered pretty expensive to get even the cheapest insulation (recycled polystyrene -- $5 per sq meter without installation).

IshbelRobertson
10-29-11, 3:40am
I've only visited NZ once, and that was half a lifetime ago. The place was just like the UK was in the 1950s and the pace of life was lived at that kind of speed! So many Scots or Scottish-ancestor-ed Kiwis, some even spoke with a Scottish burr to their voice, two and three generations on.

My family member (a govt minister at that time) when asked why he'd left Scotland said 'I'd rather be a big fish in a very, very small pond, than kick and fight for everything like at home'. This from a man who was a career professional here with a great future mapped out. He'd certainly never have entered politics here, that's for sure.

I liked the place - but prefer Australia in the 'Antipodes is great' stakes!

I've lived around the globe - and yet I still think home's best (for me and mine, that is!)

Zoebird
10-29-11, 4:30am
well, we make our home here, so. :D

Anne Lee
10-29-11, 5:43am
I went back and did a survey of recent FB posts. Most of them dealt with the World Series. Others were about kids, Halloween parties, travel, and music.

Maybe it's my age (47) but I don't know a lot of people, any really, who would call someone a loser for owning a hatchback. Especially if it was paid off.

Marianne
10-29-11, 5:47am
Interesting thread!
I'm probably just going to have to bloom where I'm currently planted, but at least I'm in an area that I don't have to defend my lifestyle. The older I get, the less tolerant I am of people who focus on 'stuff'.

DS#1 is visiting, but India is his 'home'. He has talked about how having an apartment is considered lucky, but a separate building with a yard is for the very wealthy. Handmade leather sandals are only $5, but most Indians don't even have shoes (or foot problems, either). Cookware is passed down through generations as long as it's functional.

And as a lot of cultures, the less they have, the more important people/relationships are. They have huge celebrations with everyone taking part. He can get a free bed and a meal at a Sikh temple. People of different faiths are just accepted as the norm.

Even the lower income people in the US would be considered well off in India. I wouldn't want to live there (it has a lot of not-so-good things in my book), but it's an interesting culture where most don't focus on acquiring stuff if it's not used.

Zoebird
10-29-11, 1:31pm
I'm 35, and most of my friends are between 30 and 40. A lot of us are "crunchy" so there's a good contingent of people like me. But, my high school friends talk about stuff and sports mostly. Sometimes TV. and their kids.

redfox
10-29-11, 1:38pm
I would pose this question: what do " losers" lose? What are we/they lacking that makes us losers? It's a genuine inquiry. It may take several iterations to get down to the core... I would encourage you to try an genuine dialogue rather than clever one-offs.

For me, I am rapidly losing my debt and gaining more freedom. But save this kind of observation for later in the convo, once people are truly engaged at an authentic level.

iris lily
10-29-11, 1:38pm
I went back and did a survey of recent FB posts. Most of them dealt with the World Series. ...


Yay Cards!!!! It's pretty happy around here today.

Zoebird
10-29-11, 2:11pm
i just brought up the frame of reference. here, having an SUV is rare. the only people who have them tend to be people who own farms (and big ones at that). and most of those people actually own -- get this because i love it -- land rovers from the late 1940s. They are handed down in families! Seriously, the stripped down, british-military vehicle style. Great engines that just keep on going. And they are expensive, too, if you buy them used! LOL

i think for me, i mostly ignore it. I don't comment about it (i did in this instance) because I don't think it's really worth it. And i don't care about sports, and I will often tell people that their kids are cute.

I think that a lot of my friends identify themselves with their objects, but. . . yeah. :)

JaneV2.0
10-29-11, 4:13pm
My drive-by impression of Facebook is that it's a hive of airheads and busybodies. It reminds me of a high school lunchroom, and not in a good way. And I love my stuff. And my hatchback.

Zoebird
10-29-11, 4:38pm
well, i have to admit, i love the stuff that i have too, but i'm not getting stuff every day. :) it's always so funny. one of my friends likes to get free stuff (she's doing dave ramsey and what not too), and so she enters a lot of contests that involves us voting for her as "the best" in this contest so that she can get a car for free for 6 months. She'll then blog about it as part of the contest win.

it's not like her family doesn't have two cars already, so why does she need a free, third car? what is that about? :D

today on Facebook, i got called "unyogic." the reason? once again, critical thinking. God forbid one thinks critically about a situation! Oh no! didn't you know that you create your reality? and didn't you know that if you are thinking critically, you are in 'scarcity mindset' and creating a culture of scarcity! And if you disagree with this world view that I have, you are unyogic!

good lord. LOL less Facebook for me.

Mrs-M
10-29-11, 7:54pm
One thing I have found Re: "culture, identity and objects", is those who live by such ideals are the least happy, fail and crumble the most often, and are the most stressed. Competing and comparing have never been my thing, but one constant I have found related to peoples desire to be better than all around them, is that I much prefer plain simple people instead, or, as I refer to them as, "real people". I don't allow shallowness into my life...

Dhiana
10-30-11, 6:18pm
WooHOoo!!! Congrats to the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby team =)

People used to give me grief about my hatchback and whatever other cheap used car I happen to have. I just laughed at them and said, "Why would I want an SUV when I'd rather spend my money on great vacations around the world?"
The three weeks I spent exploring the South Island was BEAUTIFUL!

After living here for 7 years I went back to the states. My husband and I decided to not buy a vehicle because we wanted to see what it takes to live car-free in SoCal. It wasn't always easy and I know I received quite a few comments but I led by example and showed it can be done. More and more of my friends began to think about ways to incorporate public transportation into their personal activities and also group activities such as gallery hopping via the trolley line.

Maxamillion
10-31-11, 12:28am
I really wish public transportation was more common across the country. In towns or even some small cities, there's not much in the way of public transportation and it makes it fairly impossible to be car free (or to use your car less often).

Spartana
11-1-11, 12:10pm
People used to give me grief about my hatchback and whatever other cheap used car I happen to have. I just laughed at them and said, "Why would I want an SUV when I'd rather spend my money on great vacations around the world?"


I always thought that advertizers should do "real" SUV ads. Instead of showing people off doing all sorts of adventerous things like kayaking and mountain biking because they purchased a luxury SUV, they should show them stuck in the office 80 hours a week to earn the money to pay for the darn thing :-)! I had a little 10 year old Hyundai Accent I paid cash for - recently died and now have a Ford Ranger truck which I also paid cash for - and have been able to have more "adventures" then anyone I know who is deep in debt for the $50K SUV. Which unfortunately is most of my friends here in SoCal who still want the finer things in life irregardless of their incomes or debt. And of course they would never be caught dead in either of my vehicles. I mean, what would the neighbors think? :-)! Like Mrs. M, I would prefer plainer, simpler friends but I think I would need to move to a place that puts value on those attributes more so than here in SoCal - at least this part of SoCal.

Zoebird
11-1-11, 12:22pm
well, ironically, i told my friends on FB yesterday that we were getting a "new" car -- hey, it's new to us! -- this weekend. and they were like "cool, what are you getting?" and I said a 1994 Honda station wagon! We graduated from high school in 1994.

i got a rather funny, "really?"

ah well. we are excited to go grocery shopping! :D

AmeliaJane
11-1-11, 6:11pm
In defense of Facebook, it's just a medium. Most of the people I'm friends with post pictures of the kids, quick updates of their lives, major news (move, new baby) and occasionally articles etc they like. I really enjoy it--I've lived all over and it's an easy way to keep up with people I probably wouldn't exchange emails with, but it does make me happy to get a quick hit of what's going on with them. The new interface makes it easy to screen out people who post reams of boring or obnoxious stuff (Hello, Cousin!) I guess it's the electronic version of Christmas newsletters--which I love. I've already met up with a high school friend posted down here and met his incredibly cute children, which never would have happened sans Facebook.

Zoebird
11-1-11, 9:33pm
no, i love facebook. there's no need to defend it. :D

i hadn't talked with anyone from highschool since i'd left high school -- for serious. I think i saw my high school friends once or twice after i moved away (our family moved from AR to PA after I graduated from high school), and it's been rather funny to get in touch with folks. nice, really.

i discovered that i really like a lot of them -- more now that we're all older and more grounded -- and that the boy who was in love with me back then, well, we are BOTH so glad that it never went anywhere. I still love him like a brother (always have), and it's been cool to 'meet' his wife, kids, and yorkie. He's one, btw, with a Hemi. he's also still catholic, very conservative (minded, not necessarily politically) in a lot of ways, but still one of the nicest people that i know. He looks at my life and says "no, we never would have made it." He says i'm just to "risky" for him -- and he's right. I take a lot of risks. And i'm very liberal minded.

He like to "keep things simple" or basically, the way of life that he grew up with. I can't fault that -- it's a good life. very steady. his wife totally pointed out that the way i seem to do things. . . just wouldn't work for him. and she's right. and i know that. i guess i always knew that.

anyway, yeah. facebook. :D

lhamo
11-2-11, 2:49am
I've also really enjoyed reconnecting with people on facebook. I started using it when I was trying to track down people from our class at an international school for our 20 year reunion -- we were literally spread out all over the globe, but it was amazing how quickly everyone came back together in virtual space for that event. There were a few awkward moments -- like when I finally was contacted by the old boyfriend who had been quite abusive to me. I still deal with some of the fallout of that relationship. But in a way it was reassuring to see that he had turned out quite normal -- he had gotten thrown out of school due to drug issues, and I always kind of wondered if he managed to turn it around. Anyway, he seems to have settled down, married a nice French lady, they have a couple of kids, and they raise horses in the French countryside somewhere. All in all, it has been striking how strong the ties still are between many of us in that group. My old school friends from my hometown area have also been fun to get in touch with. Many I hadn't seen since college, but they are still the fun, interesting people I was drawn to as a kid and teenager. Ended up friendnig some people I wasn't very close to, and there too most have proven themselves to be true to type -- they are for the most part still as shallow and uninteresting as I found them thirty years ago, though there are a few exceptions.

The people I enjoy interacting with the most, though, are probably grad school friends and grantees who become friends through the process of working together. I know some pretty interesting people doing interesting and meaningful things, and we have great conversations. Like with the interactions here, I find having a virtual community on Facebook helps me feel much less isolated and more connected in spite of living so far away from most people I know well and care about deeply.

lhamo

Sissy
11-2-11, 2:53pm
Yay Cards!!!! It's pretty happy around here today.

We were happy down in AR, too!!!! Go Freeze and congratulations Tony upon his retirement!!!

Ok, back to OP, sorry (not)

pcooley
11-2-11, 4:39pm
Everyone has pretty much accepted that we refuse to own a car, but I admit that I do have a strange relationship to stuff. When I'm not on a tandem with one of my children, I like to ride my old 1978 Schwinn touring bike that's been switched over to a single speed. This is in spite of the fact that my work is about five miles up into the foot hills, and I have to stand up on the pedals most of the way up -- more like a ten-year-old than a forty-five year old.

I'm also a sucker for some kinds of "guy things" even though I wouldn't use them. My tattered old copy of the Last Whole Earth Catalogue has an item on the Russell Belt Knife. Occasionally, I look over on Ebay for one. They're there all right. I'm not quite fool enough to buy one because I do have, from when I worked in a backpacking store, a Bowie Knife that I've hardly ever used.

I'd say, for me, that the Last Whole Earth Catalogue contains the kind of culture that I want to project, and its products, therefore, represent my gazingus pins -- useful tools for do it yourselfers, or cultural creatives, or whatever. I'd rather be seen as a guy who can fix a bicycle than a guy with a cell phone and a hemi, whatever that is. I'm a guy, and I don't know.

pcooley
11-2-11, 5:26pm
I had to cut that short to go pick up my son. I wanted to point out with the post, however, that we all have relationships to stuff as part of our identity. Culture is another interesting topic though. Have I picked up my choices out of the cultural stew? I've often wondered what influenced me to make the choices I've made. Why do I pshaw cell phones, (OK, I have one, but it's pay as you go, and I use it about four times a year)? Why am I one of those annoying people who exclaims about not owning a television, but I still stream Star Trek episodes on Netflix? Is there really a "dominant" culture in the west? Or elsewhere for that matter?

Gardenarian
11-2-11, 5:58pm
I'd say, for me, that the Last Whole Earth Catalogue contains the kind of culture that I want to project, and its products, therefore, represent my gazingus pins -- useful tools for do it yourselfers, or cultural creatives, or whatever.

Yep, me too.

I was/am a Star Trek fan too (I loved the latest movie) but I can see that TV was taking more from my life than it was giving. I don't think that it is hypocritical to enjoy some aspects of things we know are mostly unhealthy - the occasional beer, candy bar, or pair of cool sneakers are not sins. IMHO, living simply does not mean having to deny yourself everything from the mainstream - it just means being aware of the choices you are making, and what impact they might have.

I also dislike cell phones, but own a Tracphone (just in case.) It is getting to the point where I must get a regular cell phone. I was trying to make Girl Scout arrangements and half the people didn't know how to deal with the fact that I don't text, that my phone doesn't automatically know who you are or record your phone number. I don't want a cell phone, but I don't want to be a fossil, either. Is there a dominant culture? Technologically, yes.

I live in an area that supports and breeds counter-culture, but you know all those Occupy folks are Tweeting each other.

mira
11-5-11, 10:54am
It's amazing how countries with overlapping cultures and a shared language can have such different perspectives.

I used to work in the tourist information in a couple locations in Scotland. I used to love it when Americans came in and I told them that taking the train from A to B would be the easiest way. Many had never been on a train! One taken-aback Texan proclaimed in a thick southern drawl, "The TRAIN? Now THAT'LL be interesting!" It cracked me up so much! To me it's a hallmark of the difference in cultural 'norms' relating to transport between the US and most of Europe.

People can be very wasteful here, too, but in relation to cars, the vast majority are hatchbacks and there's also a huge market for used cars and car auctions. People tend to be less tolerant of the 'reduce/reuse/recycle' outlook in other areas of day-to-day living, though, which is very disheartening (seeing people pointlessly print out emails and things at work is my current bugbear...). One common attitude is that it's fine to use as much as you want, as long as it's put in the recycling bin (or taken to a charity/second-hand shop) when you're finished. It doesn't quite work like that though in reality! Go that extra mile and avoid accumulating anything in the first place... but then, this takes the convenience out of the equation, which many people cannot seem to tolerate. Since people don't directly see the results of wastefulness, it's not something that would generally cross one's mind in many cases.

There are small pockets of conscientious people and I'm glad to have become part of a local community project that promotes living in a way that reduces waste and harm to our environment.

What are you supposed to say to someone that takes pride in announcing that they just bought a brand new XYZstatussymbol? Congratulations on exchanging money for goods? What an accomplishment!

iris lily
11-5-11, 12:02pm
It's amazing how countries with overlapping cultures and a shared language can have such different perspectives.

I used to work in the tourist information in a couple locations in Scotland. I used to love it when Americans came in and I told them that taking the train from A to B would be the easiest way. Many had never been on a train! One taken-aback Texan proclaimed in a thick southern drawl, "The TRAIN? Now THAT'LL be interesting!" It cracked me up so much! To me it's a hallmark of the difference in cultural 'norms' relating to transport between the US and most of Europe.

...

It may help if you understand that in Texas, a state that is as big as, what, 5 typical euro countries scrunched together? there is no train. That's because there is no population density to support it. In parts of Texas you will drive miles and miles and miles before seeing a human. Now, if cows could rides the trains, that would be another story.

Trains are nice, I love going to Scotland and taking trains everywhere. Our last overseas vacation was to Scotland and trains were our mode of transport.

iris lily
11-5-11, 12:02pm
It's amazing how countries with overlapping cultures and a shared language can have such different perspectives.

I used to work in the tourist information in a couple locations in Scotland. I used to love it when Americans came in and I told them that taking the train from A to B would be the easiest way. Many had never been on a train! One taken-aback Texan proclaimed in a thick southern drawl, "The TRAIN? Now THAT'LL be interesting!" It cracked me up so much! To me it's a hallmark of the difference in cultural 'norms' relating to transport between the US and most of Europe.

...

It may help if you understand that in Texas, a state that is as big as, what, 5 typical euro countries scrunched together? there is no train. That's because there is no population density to support it. In parts of Texas you will drive miles and miles and miles before seeing a human. Now, if cows could rides the trains, that would be another story.

Trains are nice, I love going to Scotland and taking trains everywhere. Our last overseas vacation was to Scotland and trains were our mode of transport.

Zoebird
11-5-11, 3:34pm
i laughed about "congratulations for exchanging money for goods."

though, i do believe that it's ok to have "dreams" -- like, wanting to have a specific car, saving up for it, and buying it -- KWIM?

mira
11-10-11, 12:45pm
I know that I live in a very small country, but the comments I used to get still make me chuckle :)

Zoebird - oh yes, definitely. It just becomes a little suspect when one attaches so many mismatched values an object (to represent status/wealth and somehow add to ego etc).