27 Oct 2000 dria   » (Master)

graydon: Ah. Yes. Well. Same goes for about a billion other things.

I happen to agree with you, I just wasn't sure what exactly you meant. Personally I can think of several thousand ways that the world could be made a better place simply by people not doing something. And I strongly agree that most people need to slow down, give their heads a shake, and take a good long look around. Not just "people", but People. All of us. Collectively.

We've made an awful mess of things. What's scarier, however, is that almost no one seems to give a shit. Even on a personal level people are becoming increasingly fucked up by the sheer pace of things. Everyone with their cellphones and PDAs and laptops and pagers and microscopic attention spans and some seriously screwed drive to Do More Faster Now! And for what? I mean, really, for what? What's really being accomplished here?

Scratch that. What positive things are being accomplished? How many of our personal lives made better and more fulfilling by working 12-16 hours/day, 6-7 days/week? How is life improved by the continual acquisition of more and better electronics and communications gear? Do this many people really need cellphones? Do people really need multi-thousand-dollar home entertainment systems? Do people really need all the console gaming systems? Do people really need another new car? Do people really need to buy this many goddamned shoes?

I'm as guilty of this as anyone, although less so since I started paying attention to it. I haven't had a TV since I moved to Montreal, thus no VCR or DVD player. I don't have a PDA anymore. I have no car, and no desire to get one. I'm going to drop one of my phones (either cell or landline, haven't decided which yet). I don't wear a watch anymore. I don't check my email obsessively anymore. I unsubscribed from 9/10ths of the mailing lists I used to be on. I don't work all the time anymore. I've been reading more, writing more, walking more. Paying attention more. I've been making a fairly deliberate attempt to slow down, and I'm a much happier person for it.

This all began when I came to the realization that I had no real reason for pushing myself to Do More Faster Now. That I was caught in the classic trap of consumerism, believing that I could somehow make my life happier and more fulfilling by Buying More Stuff. It never worked. Not for years. I'd buy more stuff, play with it for a while (like a kid on Christmas morning), and nothing would change and I'd just have another "thing" to put in the box with all the other unused "things", and I'd still be generally discontent with life and, worse, I'd usually be further in debt.

"Well that's stupid", thought I. So, I've started cutting out the deadwood, cutting out the extraneous activities from my life and allowing myself to, as you (graydon) said, sit still. I'm not even halfway there yet, and things are already significantly better than they were before. Less stress. Less insomnia. Fewer headaches. And those are only some of the purely personal benefits. If everyone would do the same and just Consume Less, even by 20%, things would get better. We would still be consuming too much by a long long long shot, but it would be better. Maybe one small 10-20% reversal in consumer spending habits would be the pebble that begins a landslide.

So, yeah. I could go on, but, um, I won't.

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