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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I like toys and candy, what of it?

In a world of more choice, and more complicated choice, are we taking shelter in behaviors and preferences whose simplicity offers comfort?

Benjamin Barber believes that pressures from society today and our insatiable consumer culture are making us revert to childhood familiarity. I heard him speak about his book, "Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole” on National Public Radio. He sites three years of Superman and Shrek movie blockbusters, and the number of adults reading Harry Potter books, among other examples (a listener phoned in to comment on the candy-flavored drinks now offered at Starbucks) to prove that our capitalist society has finally cracked our rational being.
While I don’t agree with Barber’s citations (Shrek has plenty of humor and messages unintelligible to 9 year olds), nor his point on capitalism, I think the notion of our instinct to revert is interesting. In certain ways, I can see that coming to life online, in smiley faces that stand in the place of a complex thought, and in the escapism of virtual worlds (Avin and I have an ongoing debate about whether Second Life fits here). The internet is home to endless choice, and yet it’s a sanctuary where people can exist simply, childishly, without someone razzing them about it.

Just something to chew on, I guess.

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