A World of Plastic Promises?

The implicit religion of hyperconsumerism contains many of the echoes of Christian faith. Malls and movie theaters resemble churches. Celebrities resemble saints. Shopping becomes a sacrament, and gossip magazines become scripture. Even conversion takes on a new form in the hyperconsumer world. In the hyperreal world, we believe that by changing our surfaces we are undergoing conversion. (Mark Sayers,  The Trouble With Paris: Following Jesus in a World of Plastic Promises, Thomas Nelson, 2008, p. 33)

(…) Many today fear such commitment-based social institutions because self now takes precedence over commitment. As the worldview of hyperconsumerism has taken hold of our imaginations, everything has become shopping. We must not become entangled in commitments, because they could limit our options on finding something better. This constant search for something better means that the supershoppers of hyperconsumerism are still waiting for a better deal after the mall has closed and then are forced to return home empty-handed. Or we find ourselves always on the move, searching for a home that shifts and shimmies over the horizon. We keep up this restlessness as our fears of not being stimulated take over. The key to life, we are told, is to keep holding out for that perfect bargain. But the less we commit, the more we become passive. We never make a move; instead, we simply stand and watch life go by. Our fear of commitment has turned us into passive consumers. We have become voyeurs, watching other people have a life. Pornography shows us other people having sex; gossip magazines show us the emotional lives of celebrities; nature documentaries show us the natural world while we sit in our artificial lounge rooms; reality TV shows us the lives of ordinary people; lifestyle programs show us others doing domestic work; sports teams show us others playing; chat shows show us others conversing. We have stopped having “real” lives; instead, we live hyperreal zombielike lives, remaining uncommitted and out of touch with the art of actual living.

Our commitment phobia is limiting our ability to truly enjoy life. How then are we to find a way out of hyperreality? How are we to find a way in which to live as a culture that is not trapped by the promises of hyperreal culture? Quite simply, consumerism has invaded every part of our consciousness. If we are to reclaim our freedom, we cannot simply buy our way out of the hyperconsumerist world. If we are to avoid the alluring yet imprisoning temptations of the hyperreal condition, we must effect a different kind of revolution-a revolution that begins with the human heart. But before we can effect a revolution, we must leave the world of hyperreality and make a stop off at the world of reality. (ibidem, pp. 51-52)

The Trouble with Paris

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