Confessions of a Nonconformist Consumer


The vast array of consumer products available in the modern markets, needs of a large mass of compulsive buyers that merry-go-round in a spending spree. The great engine that produced the consumer goods, was born with the industrial revolution of the 19th-century. The industrial revolution and the phenomenon of mass consumption were preceded by the feudal age household economics and artisanal markets, by economic principalities and then by the mercantilism of the end of the European Renaissance. These markets led to the concentration of the large capital assets, needed to build the first factories and urban centers. The knowledge, scientific innovations, and mechanization that brought about this industrialization spearheaded our evolution exponentially towards the information age.

The markets created by the information age are served by giant administrators that have consolidated the big media platforms, this way they can sway public opinion and manufacture lies. The few companies that have bought out all the media outlets are controlling the narrative and social talking points, simulating the late 18th-century invisible hand that manufactured demand and the illusion of scarcity. In this fictitious market, the consumer does not get a high value for the transaction. The utility value for the consumer is considerably less than the exchange value which mostly benefits the large companies with their high-profit margins. The consumers are left with a reduced market share of options. The industrialists on a large scale are in favor of this dependence, confusing economic freedom, with the privilege to exploit the consumer for profit.

The media giants run the editorial teleprompter that is read by trusted talking heads, their skewed news agencies are not interested in impartial accounts, they are not in favor of the free market of ideas, they prefer a giant monoculture where everybody repeats the trending social meme. These consolidated platforms don’t admit the polarization of opinions as a natural consequence of free speech. The media giants and their new social media accomplices, don’t accept criticism, their algorithms shadow ban and digitally disappear dissident voices from their constituents.

Proof of this is that Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube owners use their social networks to censor the freedom of ideas developed by their users and the monetization of their products. Social media has come to the rescue of the dying dinosaur media, the social media applications have appeared on the scene to monopolize the public narrative, they have captured your attention pushing you to share your private data, they then turn around and sell this information to data mining companies, they manipulate you to conform, their digital platforms are not the public square they were sold to be, but really private companies with a political agenda, they are not a public utility, instead they represent the data industrial complex that has come to corral us. The alternative is economic freedom and liberty, where the market of ideas proliferates on the Internet. The Internet, therefore, would have to remain free and open, enforcing privacy laws that anonymize our data at the source. In his or her privacy, it should be up to the user to decide what to browse.

An open Internet would have to multiply direct spaces and its users be free players of informational exchange. The free market and the new computer highways would have to promote the proximity of the product to the table, in dynamic peer to peer, person to person exchanges. Like the ones we find in regional economies that are beginning to flourish, full of small local producers, local markets, small businesses, small farmers and artisans. In this network, distribution routes run much shorter, within diameters that have neighborhoods as their nucleus, reducing the costs of transportation, refrigeration, maintenance and freshness of the goods. This scale of doing business also minimizes the environmental impact of its industry. The local closed-loop economy will replace the mine-to-landfill systems and regional economies will dominate the world with locally distributed systems.

The development of small-scale economics, regions, and communities is a logical solution to our global economic stronghold. The regional economies will lead to a comprehensive social design that is integral with our unique regional advantages. Integral as nature and its life cycles which seeks efficient strategies and whole systems to keep its balance. Nature knows how to work the energy conversion exchange, she knows how to oscillate around an average that maximizes her life potential. Our society would have to mimic how mother nature recycles its production. She only produces what is useful for herself, she leaves nothing aside, nothing is wasted. On the contrary, the modern market is stocked with consumer products that are mostly inefficient and in many instances quite harmful to our health and the environment. These products do not calculate into their utility the cost of extraction and toxicity and the environmental damage that occurs upstream. The new designs will be maximized for the integral health of individuals and society downstream, reusing, reutilizing and incorporating recycling as a robust industry, remediating soil and estuaries, considering biophysical balance sheets, restoring the environment and humanizing our urban centers.

The centralized system on the other hand with its commodities markets is dominated by transnational corporations. In their central headquarters and warehouses, industrial engineers and professional technocrats are bought and sold to monopolize design, production, and performance of their products.

A free market designed for what is good for the planet and what is good for the people should be very efficient and useful, a scenario where everyone wins, guaranteeing a quality of life and healthy consumption, with durable products that don’t break down and last for a good while. Healthy competition should incentivize companies and cooperatives to guarantee the highest objective value of a product. If it is food, it would have to provide higher nutrition, free of toxicity and artificiality, this food must come from regenerative farming practices. The free market must also mean that consumers know the origin of the products, and from where and how the manufactured raw materials were extracted. Consumers would base their purchases conscientiously, from a much needed moral perspective that has been all but excluded from the imposition and dynamics of economic rights. What would happen if consumers only bought products from honest companies that offer just conditions for their workers and respect for the environment? Educated consumers would rate products, not because of brand loyalty, but according to the products ecological footprint, by the collateral damage and polluting margins generated by its production flow. All this profile is already available via smartphones and applications that scan barcodes.

The expansion of consumerist society brought great advances in health, education, infrastructure, communication, and travel. In this regard, industrialization has played a civilizing role and has raised our standard of living. The availability and use of telephones, televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, computers, transportation, electricity, and basic services have solved major obstacles and created an increasingly comfortable, secure, efficient, abundant and prolific mass of consumers. The latest home appliances and hi-tech gadgets come with intelligent technologies, they have designed back doors that invade our privacy, they come with artificial intelligence and facial recognition technology. The supposedly innocuous virtual administrators Alexa and Google scan and scrape our private browsing histories weaponizing our customer data. This together with our online social credit, conforms the gated economy, which far from being free and open, represents a market imposed by big tech and big data. Smart cities are already being laid out ubiquitously welcoming the age of the privacy nightmare. This new paradise has been accepted by the complacent servility of the masses that assimilates the tracking of our lives and the standardization of cheap products as the norm, hypnotized by deceptive propaganda that sells lies and puts profit before humans. In this deceptive reality, we end up working feverishly to consume the most absurd, harmful and unnecessary things and overpaying for basic services. In our free times, we are treated as adults, manipulated for consumption, prisoners of entertainment gadgets and accessories, in a vulgar show that seeks to trigger our desires and appetites. We waste our free time on trivialities, atomizing language and obsessively engaged in public self-glorification. Motivated by the envy and status showed by the fashion industry and celebrity gossip, that sells us seasonal appearances as our utmost yearning, there we are entrapped, disconnected, dehumanized, caught in an alienated plot of head-less consumption.

This experiment in mass commodification is now on a path of diminishing returns. We have transitioned to be worse off than our parents. The socio-economic indices have stagnated and are on a decline. The millennial’s generation has a hampered vision of their future, they are the social casualties of the wheel of endless consumption, they are witnessing a sharp decline in the quality of life. We cannot hide from the collateral damage generated by the mining to land-fill model of extraction-production, with its bad designs and wastefulness, we are now on the downside slope of accumulated benefits and advancement brought on by materialist society. Evidence of this is the social tragedies of our crime-ridden inner cities and slums, by the waste of human potential lost in hours of mega traffic jams and suburban commuting. This model of development generates other consequences such as the destruction of the family nucleus and the accumulation of non-degradable garbage that pollutes the oceans and water tables. Other consequences of mass commodification are the unregulated economic growth that fuels geopolitical wars that seek to control raw materials and transportation routes. The impoverishment of this model drives over-development to the proliferation of marginal areas, to the pharmacopeia of our food, to the design of planned obsolescence into our products, to the goods generated by human organ trafficking, the sexual slave trade, and biotechnology. This later entity prepares to bio-hack new nano-products into vaccines, they prepare chips that will be inoculated subcutaneously, like the ones that are already injected into our pets. Without knowing their health consequences, biotechnology laboratories also incubate stem cells, cloning human and animal hybrids and then selling patented biogenetic goods. The pharmaceutical industry’s political tentacles will impose these products and other chimeras, violating our rights and ethical principles.

The money economy needs of endless compulsive consumption, it’s upon us to awaken to our collective mindlessness, finding antidotes to the poisoning and social engineering that carts us to the fatal markets. The imposed spell of materialism has railed us consumers to the age of digital surveillance, an era where the omnipresence of big brother monitors and herds us to the garden walls of a digital plantation. An open, diverse and free society based on liberty within a constitutional framework, is the way forward and is the republics strongest guarantee. In these open systems, the free market of ideas attracts buyers choices like a direct democracy, a place where the consumer has the purchasing power and the ultimate say. This elective power is our foremost right, it is also our duty as responsible consumers to demand the best products. Using science and technology to replicate what nature does wisely, we will design economic systems that put humans and the environment first, this will dismantle the hidden forces that trigger our cravings, anxieties, and frustrations inducing us to participate in the monetization of our lives.

To avoid the consolidation of the digital highway by big tech and the social media giants, with their disinformation and censorship of the internet, we consumers must remain vigilant of the gatekeepers and their mind control, this can be done through the entrepreneurshipof independent news agencies, alternative social media sites, alternative search engines that do not track our digital fingerprint and if necessary a free alternative internet as well. The mainstream share of the media will be dissolved with unrestricted online markets, they will not be able to block and curate the diversity of products and ideas uploaded to the world wide web, they will adjust or disappear and be just one more player in a plethora of market options.

We will also have to constantly monitor and regulate the excesses of a free market, legislating privacy and antidumping laws, protecting us from online hackers and digital piracy. Additionally, we cannot give up our responsibilities to technocracies that supposedly represent our best interests. The free market of ideas is not about interest groups or cartels, it rallies in the best interest of the people and communities, raising the quality of living conditions for the whole planet, in a systems revolution of design, where trade is both free, fair and has a regional basis, in an exchange where everyone wins. The new age to come will be one where consumers will be empowered and educated for self-governance and planetary stewardship. As consumers, our foremost right to freedom is the one we assume when we engage in a direct market democracy. This right is the one we enforce with our purchasing power. This calls on us to demand that the marketplace operate with a moral compass, only selling products that are beneficial and environmentally sustainable.

Carlos Cuellar Brown is a New York City essayist who has written on new media, social theory and metaphysics. His essays have been posted online by Opendemocracy, The Global Dispatches, Kosmos Journal and regularly at In 2013 his essay “Intermedial Being” was published by A Journal of Performance and Art PAJ #106 MIT Press Journals. In 2015 Mr. Brown was nominated for the TWOTY awards out of the Netherlands for his essay “Blueprint for Change”. Recently Permaculture Design Magazine, May 2017 No. 104 issue, published his essay “Less is More”. you can read more about the author and his new book “In Search of Singularity”@


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