It's rather amusing to watch the commercialization of simplicity. Well-to-do urban professionals move to "the country", grow their own vegetables, and use solar energy to heat their log cabins. Conspicuous anticonsumption, some of them proudly call it --- as they drive their SUVs to the train station for the commute into town, and as they compete with one another to buy lakefront status property. They scarcely notice their truly rural neighbors, struggling to get by economically. Unselfconsciousness raised to a lifestyle.

A couple of months ago Alex Williams wrote about "oppies", aka organic professionals, in "Going Up the Country, but Keeping All Your Toys" (18 Jul 2004 New York Times). The article wasn't ostensibly meant to be ironic, but it definitely read that way from my perspective. More recently, in an op-ed essay a writer (who shall mercifully remain nameless here) wrung her hands about how much more time her tiny daughters spent with the nanny than with her --- but how, as they start attending daycare, the Quality Time equation will shift in Mommy's favor. Not a thought given to working fewer hours, earning less money, and having more time for her family. Not an allusion made to the vast majority who can't afford nannies, or decent child care at all for that matter. And to add further spice: the writer's byline reveals that she's on the staff of a small asteroid in the Time Inc. conglomerate-corporate universe, Real Simple, which purports to be "the magazine about simplifying your life".

But look at the web site and it's really about buying stuff. Check out the Privacy Policy, and it's really about selling names. And the advertisements in the on-paper 'zine? Strange how the pursuit of simplicity always involves spending more money ...

(see also SomethingToSell (14 Apr 2002), MoreFunLessStuff (1 Oct 2002), For Themselves (8 Jun 2003), CutTheVolume (5 Mar 2004), DalaiLamaBirthdayGift (24 Aug 2004), ... )

TopicSociety - TopicHumor - 2004-09-17

(correlates: HouseProud, NewYearResolution, JoyToStuffRatio, ...)