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Virtual Consumption:

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
June 25, 1998


I was in Bradford Custom Framing a while back getting Disney lithographs framed when I got into a lengthy conversation with Chuck the Master Framer. Chuck started showing me how one could view thousands of prints from his in-store computer, anyone of which he could order and have hanging in your home within two weeks. Chuck then went on to tell me that this was a very environmental option when compared next to the shopping sprawl chainstore that I like to refer to as Aaron Brother's Fart Mart. Well I had to agree, less space is needed when a showroom is On-line.

So I began to ponder the web as an environmental savior. I like the idea of ending the need of stripmall after stripmall. Let's just get rid of retail altogether! I like the idea of being able to do all of my shopping on line. Take for example Pesto. Cynthia Bronte, a local grower, manufactures a product line of pesto sauces, all of which are available online at www.basiltops.com. So with just a minute or so at the desktop I can order a vegan pesto, without having to burn fossil fuel to get it.

Now I know some products such as meat, diary, eggs and fish shouldn't be ordered online. This I'm sure has something to do with the Federal law against shipping the dead via the mail. But ordering a Disney print or a seascape in sepia tones is perfectly harmless.

All over the web you can find tons o' stuff. Barbie is yours with a few keystrokes, and at www.baking.m-ms.com you can custom order your M&M's. If I ate milk chocolate I would order the pink, teal, and cream colored candies.

Once you think about it, online shopping is just a more technologically advanced version of QVC. The question is can I get junky Joan Rivers Jewelry via the internet? Bingo, at www.qvc.com I could purchase a Caribbean Bright Bangle Bracelet for a mere $62.50 plus a $3.97 shipping and handling charge. Retail is becoming obsolete. How soon do the malls become ghost towns? Just  when can we begin to tear down those temples to consumption and replace them with parks and soccer fields?

Creating soccer fields should make soccer moms happy because not only will it keep the soccer kids busy, it will also help prevent the propagation of the dreaded middle class mall rat, aka teenagers. Now I'm not so foolish to believe that online shopping with help bring our consumptive ways down to an environmentally manageable level;  that would be un-American. What I am suggesting is that online shopping might place consumption where all dirty habits belong, in the home. Just as it is becoming socially unacceptable to smoke in public, it is my hope that shopping will follow suit. Who knows, we might even begin to see public service announcements warning kids of the danger of shopping. Let's face it, consumption is as addictive as smoking and just as harmful.

Americans consume five times more than the rest of the world. To find out who is responsible for the destruction of rainforests, the demise of untold plant and animal species, and the reshaping of the planet for such luxury goods as gold and diamonds, we need only look in the mirror. The gold fillings in your teeth are a direct result of our gluttonous ways, encourages environmental destruction, and  lines the pockets of the ultra-rich. As for the diamonds you give as a sign of your love, it also shows your contempt for the environment while making the deBeers family even richer.

Speaking of consumption and making the rich richer, I went to Disneyland yesterday. In honor of the opening of the new and improved Tomorrowland let me just say it is neither. O.K. so they got a new paint job, but the lines are just as long, if not longer, the food is just as gross (with the exception of the Blue Bayou), and they still try to sell you everything but the shirts of their backs, and the socks off the feet. I should know because I have been trying to score a pair of the cool striped socks they where at the Pirates of the Caribbean for years. The only thing new at Space Mountain is their sponsor;  FedEx. The only thing new at Star Tours is their sponsor;  Energizer Batteries. Both attractions are a 30 minute commercial followed by one minute ride.

Not to be out done I did my part and consumed big time. Both shopping and eating, I was in rare form. Taking one last spin on the teacups full of food and loaded down with stuff, hoping not to loose it all. I was in pig heaven.

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