Do you ever feel lost? Lost in the masses of people swarming around us trying to get their voices heard? Lost in a mall that has too many stores and too few maps? We all feel this innate desire to be found. To have our voices heard by someone who cares. It turns out that someone is listening to our voices. It’s not the people you would think are listening or the things you would think they would listen to.
An average day consists of many conscious or subconscious wants and desires. In America, and other capitalist states, these desires many times then become purchases or consumption of services. Usually a person goes from want to buy with barely any other thought in between. There might be some thought about how much each purchase could save or not save money for that individual, but those conscious or subconscious decisions are so unmonitored that we rarely even dare to screen them for what their ramifications are for everyone else.
One purchase in one person’s life has a global affect in today’s modern and intertwined network of technologies. Whether we understand it, like it, or even despise it, businesses are collecting and using data based on each purchase that we make in order to better predict what they need to provide for us in the future. The good ole days of having a mom and pops stores where the owner knows exactly what each person in the town likes, is coming back into style. Businesses are recording information from every purchase so that they can then stock their stores to the particular needs or wants of the people that shop at those stores.
This phenomenon goes way beyond just shopping, too. Statistics and data have been collected for politics and TV for many years. Politicians go to the polls to find out where they stand with particular demographics and then try to appeal to the people that don’t like them. TV shows get their ratings on their shows to find out which shows should stay on or not, and now that even goes for commercials.
All of these facts lead us to a conversely shifting attitude of consumers. The trend of consumers is to feel out of control by the big businesses that are taking over their small towns or shoving out more brand name ideas. This is the exact opposite type of attitude that consumers should have with this modern world of data collection. It all goes back to basic economics. What drives the price of basically anything in a capitalist economy? There is the supply side, which is a completely different story, and there is the demand side, which is based on previous consumption and want for the good or service by the people.
With this basic economic principle in mind, and the ginormous amount of research and technology that goes into finding out consumer behavior, the average purchaser should realize that the big businesses don’t have the power. The consumers have the power.
We have the power to put different things on the shelves in stores if we don’t like them. We have the power to take TV shows off the air if we don’t like them. We have the power to change who takes office and what they are running for. We, as consumers have more power than anyone is willing to give credit for, because most of the people publishing anything are working for the businesses. And the businesses don’t want you to know that they are helplessly looking for what we want, like they are on a first date with a mute person. Most people are too scared or feel trapped in the expanding and contracting economy that we live in. There are so many different products out there that consumers try and make the safe choice or go for the cheapest option only to fall into the ploy of the businesses that are putting those items on the shelves.
Consumers, instead of acting like a student trying to give the teacher the answer he or she is looking for, should act as irrational consumers and buy the things that we want. These purchases and consumption of services will then be able to give the data collectors a real idea of what consumers wants.
The next step in this process is then of course the power of groups and community. Instead of trying to make a stand by saying that we disapprove of something, we need to put our wallet where our mouth is and stand up for what we believe in by actually purchasing and voting for the things we think are right. When groups of people start to realize that boycotting and mass purchasing can in effect wipe out a product or product line, the world will start to change in a way that could better our country and the world.
Once we as consumers know what we want, we need to become informed about what we are buying. So much of what we consume is out of pure blind shopping. Without even knowing what is in a product, most consumers end up voting for things they would never support. One example of what we don’t know is what goes into making some of the foods that are often eaten and how much cheap labor is exploited to make them as well. If we knew exactly what is going into the products that we are buying then we would be able to stop buying/supporting/voting for the products that are producing things the wrong way. We could then get back to eating foods that are meant for the betterment of all consumers, not the CEO’s wallet. There are so many food related illnesses and diseases in this country that could be reduced with this kind of grocery shopping.
There are many arguments against this though. Time is a valuable asset, and getting to know all the products that one consumes would be a time consuming process. There is also the cost side of the argument. Buying the things that we support sometimes is not going to be the cheapest option. These are both hard things to cope with and are deeply embedded in the American society of living life easy and not worrying about others. But don’t we live in a land that is free. We share this land with each other and if the only connection that we have with the people around us is that we both are free to do what we want and we both want to live good lives, wouldn’t it be extremely beneficial to try and work with society and the masses in order to make life better for everyone including you.
It will take time out of our days and it will require some over spending in areas, but these costs are both worth the fight back for humanity. This country is not meant to be made with liberty for all… businesses. That “all” is referring to every one of us. The people of this country are the backbone. If we can realize this and take charge instead of taking the easy way out, our country can be better for not only us but also for the next generation. You have a vote. Don’t be afraid to use it.