Geeks and Consumerism

I’ve been back at University for a week now and we’re already in the thick of a new project. On our first day back we were asked to agree or disagree with a manifesto stating our skills should be used for the greater good i.e. to promote social justice, sustainable development, environmental awareness etc. An interesting project which has lead me to read a couple of books on the conflict designers have with earning a wage and being ethical.

It’s difficult to decide whether you accept a briefcase full of cash to design an advert for Nescafe or turn your back on it because you don’t agree with their ethics. Not that I’ve ever had to make that sort of decision – most of my freelance work has been for small organisations doing good work. But if I did have to make a choice, it would certainly be tough.

In an ideal world I definitely agree with the manifesto but sometimes we need to compromise. As far as I can, I will certainly look to work for organisations with a sustainable outlook and an environmentally conscious foundation… perhaps WWF or Greenpeace?

In a world where we are bombarded with adverts everywhere we go, it is hard to avoid being swept along by consumerism. For instance, since starting university I’ve tried only to buy the bare essentials; food, books, art materials, and petrol (when I don’t get the bus). But last week while I was trying to replace some holey jeans in M&S (note I was not buying a trendy label), I suddenly found myself amongst hoards of women pushing and shoving in an “Everything for £1 SALE”.

I didn’t really need anything but my pulse started to race and I broke out in a sweat thinking “I could buy 10 items of clothes for £10!!!!” I was right in there squeezing past the elbows, and trolleys laden with clothes, getting progressively hotter in the mission to find something a) in my size and b) suitable to wear in public. It was only 9.15am but in the 15 minutes I was there, the crowd grew and grew. The sound of hundreds of hangers scraping against rails must have called out to any woman passing the store – music to their ears. I can’t help being reminded of the Pied Piper and the rats!

There is something truly amazing about women in a sale – red faced and disappearing behind the mountain of clothes over one arm”oooh Tracy I’ve got a whole season’s worth of clothes and I’ve only spent £11″ , “Hey Chloe – I’ve wanted these for ages and LOOK they’re just a POUND!!!” My question is, what sort of initial mark-up must M&S have had to still make a profit selling things for £1?

In all honesty there really wasn’t anything worth buying there. Even in my coffin I wouldn’t be seen wearing some of the garish outfits on offer. I did snag a couple of pairs of trousers, which I’m not sure I’ll ever wear but hey, it only cost me £2!!!! Consumerism at its worst and I won’t dare to discuss the sweatshops… the miles travelled and the fuel consumed… the pollution, the packaging…. just so we can say we’ve got a BARGAIN!

So there you go, now I have to come up with a design that comments on this ! Not an easy one.

I had another age/trend dilemma last Thursday. It was P***ing down with rain so I took out my anorak (quite nice – Berghaus), picked up an umbrella and set off for Uni. You older, wiser folk might say to yourself “she’s a sensible girl”. But not long ago, I asked one of my student friends why he’d rather get soaked than wear a waterproof? His response was “Are you MAD? be seen in Public with an anorak?”. At the time I didn’t respond but made a mental note: Waterproof obviously = Geek.

So on the bus I started to consider whether I should actually wear the waterproof once I was reached the University premises. One more look at the torrential downpour and I decided to suss out the scene on arrival. 20 minutes later, on campus: Lo! Hundreds of students walking in the rain and not a waterproof in sight! The were all soaked to the bone with hoodies pulled over their heads in a vain attempt to keep their hair dry.

For a millisecond I considered taking my coat off then I thought – WHAT AM I DOING!? Its ludicrous to wander around in the rain with no form of protection for the sake of the trend! God is looking down on you, shaking his rain maker and laughing!

DAMN you fashion victims! Embrace your inner GEEK!

To top it off I wore my rucksack with BOTH straps on my shoulders because you know what? It’s much more comfortable when you have a bag full of books and they were designed to be worn that way. So all you students with back problems and lop-sided shoulders… it’s because you let TREND conquer PRACTICALITY!

Anyway, enough said… could someone please tell me whether I’m using the apostrophe in the right place when I write “it’s” or “its”?

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