Blind faith in where and what they buy is doing untold damage to the country

fundamentalist consumersA fundamentalist is a term ordinarily reserved for the extremely religious among us. They are people who interpret every word of their bible to the extreme without question. Some then try and spread their interpretation by any means necessary, even by threat of violence.

Today I’m going to explain to you a different type of fundamentalism. It isn’t a religion in the traditional sense, but it does involve idol worship, prophets and doing the bidding of a lord. In a way, what I’m going to describe to you today can be just as destructive as any organized faith. I’m talking about fundamentalist consumers.

It isn’t hard to see the similarities at play here between religious fundamentalists and fundamentalist consumers. Think of a corporation as the deity and their advertisers as prophets. At the bottom you’ll find consumers all too eager to please their corporate lords without question. Even if it means doing harm to themselves or others in the process.

Just like a religious man will never question his faith, consumers today don’t question what they consume, where it comes from or who sold it to them. As long as it remains cheap people will keep coming back. I call this blind faith.

People don’t care where it was made. These days they just assume it was made in China and pay no mind to the local manufacturing jobs that were lost as a result or the fact that it is most likely an inferior product to begin with.

Fundamentalist consumers don’t care about safety or the proper labeling of products either. Out of sight, out of mind. It’s better not to know the methods in which your vegetables are grown or which pesticides were used on them. This mentality isn’t restricted to the food industry.

The worst aspect of this type of blind faith lies with whom we worship. In other words where we shop. No one questions what these corporate deities do. People flock to big chain restaurants and box stores as if it were their church.

They don’t care about the practices of these places, such as who they hire, the salaries they offer, their environmental impact, their overall corporate/political ideology. None of that matters. They either don’t care or don’t realize the harm these companies do to their brothers and sisters, so long as the price is right.

In fact, fundamentalist consumers don’t even care if it harms themselves. Many of them are so devoted to these corporate gods that they go into a tremendous amount debt. Imagine putting more than you can afford into the collection plate every Sunday.

Most organized religions wouldn’t exist if it were not for their spokespeople; their prophets. Just like Moses, Jesus and Muhammad spoke for the almighty, corporate deities also have a way to communicate to the masses. Advertisers who’s reach would make any of the other prophets jealous.

Advertising has been around forever, but nowadays it’s everywhere. On the radio, television, highway billboards, the internet, you can’t escape it. You would think it would be enough, but there are people out there who insist on spreading the good corporate word themselves.

I’m not necessarily talking about those who defend a corporation’s actions like politicians or free market enthusiasts. I’m talking about the people out there who have such a devotion to a corporate brand that they willingly (but sometimes unknowingly) advertise for them.

They do so by wearing t-shirts, caps and jackets, or having bumper stickers with their favorite corporate logos and slogans. Some do it out of love for the product, some do it because it looks “cool”.

With advertising, much like the prophets of yore, it comes down to brainwashing. With all the outlets at a corporation’s disposal it’s easy to see why people get hooked or suckered in. It’s gotten so bad that people are even paying their own money for things like Logo Party. A board game much like Charades, but here you have to guess the corporate logo. What a great investment… for the corporate parties involved.

You might not think so on the surface, but this type of fundamentalism is hurting our way of life. When we buy everything and question nothing, consuming becomes nothing more than distraction.

I understand that shopping and consuming makes people happy and is central to the economy. But we need to replace these fundamentalist consumers with smart ones. Being a smart consumer does not always mean hunting for the lowest price.

If you’re one of those people who thinks the government shouldn’t get involved, then shopping smart is the only way to bring manufacturing back. It’s the only way to protect our environment and it’s the only way to keep corporate greed in check.

Fundamentalist consumers come from all walks of life. They are not specific to a political party, a social ideology or a certain race or language, but they do all subscribe to the same religion. A religion that has turned our country into one big discount shopping mall.

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