A Place For My Stuff

I finally got around to viewing some of the commercials from this year’s Superbowl, and this one just left me feeling unsettled.

About five months after I got back to the US, I talked about the level of insanely overwhelming choice in grocery stores here.   At the time, I was still shopping the way that I did in Germany- one or two canvas bags of food at a time.

Since then, I’ve expanded my shopping a little bit, but not very much.  I still carry canvas bags into the grocery store, but sometimes I take plastic bags away with me also.  My grocery habits are more expansive than they were while I lived in Germany, but they’re still nowhere near what they were before I lived overseas.   I’ve actually taken photographs of every load of groceries I’ve purchased in the past sixteen months, so maybe I’ll come back to that in a future post.

Since I got back, I’ve gotten a car and an apartment and all the trappings of American life-  I’ve purchased a television and a vacuum, a microwave and a toaster.   I’ve populated my apartment with furniture, although a large percentage of that furniture came from Ikea.

Here’s the thing, though-  I’ve never felt truly comfortable with simple accumulation.  Those who have known me for years know that I had a slightly anti-stuff mindset even before I lived overseas.  I’ve always gone through cycles of decluttering, and of getting rid of stuff.  My aversion to just accumulating belongings is borderline pathological.

Perhaps that aversion is part of why the Rocket Mortgage commercial leaves such a terrible taste in my mouth.  It’s more than that, though.  This commercial represents everything that I think is wrong with America’s consumer-driven, greed-centric culture.

“Buy a house so you can fill it with more stuff so you can support the economy so more people can buy houses that they need to fill with stuff.”    Lather, rinse, repeat.

Maybe I’m in the minority here, but that cycle of buying and buying and buying doesn’t make me feel good.  Even without getting into the environmental effects of this cycle, or the politics of finance, it just feels skeevy somehow.   Buying to support buying to support buying feels so pointless, and basing a business model on the idea that other people should spend their money that way… well that just seems evil to me.

What do you think, readers?  Is there a Mr. Burns type behind this whole endeavor?  Or am I just overthinking it?

8 thoughts on “A Place For My Stuff

  1. Buy a house to fill it with stuff? Umm, no. That’s not why you buy a house! That advert was weird :-/

    I’d be very interested in the grocery shopping pictures!

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  2. I feel very much like you do in this regard. (Warning: vaguely socialist rant) While having stuff that you need readily available is nice, that’s not how the consumerism branch of Capitalism works. These ads are insidiously created to make you feel like acquiring all this stuff is going to make you happier, and like there is something wrong with your if you don’t want a house to fill with stuff. It’s not fueled by need, but by this faulty logic that you’re not happy enough unless you own all these things (house included) And it just isn’t the truth. We’re always going to want more or feel like you need more, because, and I suspect you know this, owning a specific thing does not equal happiness. And if it feels skeevy, it’s because you know that something’s wrong with the thought model. Not only is it a lie, but the substantial trade of quality and community for quantity makes us unhappy, and everyone trying to sell you something in this way is profiting from our unhappiness.

    I do like your grocery photos, though. 😛

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    1. I believe you’re right- it does play on the “stuff makes you happy” trope, and that’s just not true at all.

      I agree that it’s good to have the things you need- poverty is not pleasant. I think that the “American dream” hugely overcorrects for that.

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  3. jennnanigans

    This ad is gross for a lot of reasons.
    1. Buy stuff! Stuff is important! (despite the fact that there’s a big anti-consumerist movement right now)
    2. It assumes that all the stuff would be made in America (and no, it’s not)
    3. The people on their smartphones at the magic show, at the aquarium, and everywhere creep me out in a big way. The magician looking out over the crowd and everyone’s staring at their phone – EEYAGH. Why did you leave home anyway?
    4. The suburban sprawl of homogenous homes. SNORESVILLE.
    5. The idea that a home is a financial investment that you fill with more financial investments. I’m one of those old people who thinks a home = feeling safe, warmth, happiness, family, friendship. What they are selling is houses, not homes.

    *shuffles back out to the lunatic fringe, where she belongs*

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      1. jennnanigans

        Indeed! One only has to spend a few minutes in places like Boingboing or Lifehacker to see plenty of posts on simplifying life and such. I myself was looking up information about small houses the other day. 🙂

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  4. 1) Happy to see you back in the blogging game.
    2) That commercial pissed me right off. If people want to own their own home, that’s completely understandable. If people want to own a home specifically to fill it with more stuff than anyone really needs – most of which probably will NOT be made in America – well that’s less understandable. And I’m all for convenience when it comes to ordering a pizza, but it seems to me that getting a mortgage should involve a tiny bit more thought, effort, and serious consideration of the financial consequences, than a tap on a touchscreen affords. Rant over.

    ps~ The other commercial that really irked me was this one… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmPxUsXUurA
    I loathe the bouquet-tossing tradition with the fire of a thousand suns.

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  5. There was sort of a Welcome to the Machine feel to it, too — I think mostly due to the music, but maybe also due to the zoomy transitioning imagery.

    No me gusta.

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