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Common belief is that consumerism is sustained by big corporations and advertising. But according to a recent book, hipsters and countercultures help consumerism to thrive.
The system actually isn’t striving for conformity and needs a variety of people competing so it can sell stuff, says David McRaney, author of You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself
“(The system) loves diversity and needs people like hipsters and music snobs so it can thrive,” McRaney writes in the book. He gives the following example:
“Say there is this awesome band no one knows about except you and a few others. They don’t have a record contract or an album. You tell everyone about them as they build a decent fan base. They make an album that sells enough copies to allow them to quit their day jobs. Soon they have a huge fanbase and get a record contract and play on the Tonight Show. Now they’ve sold out. So you hate them….this brings us to a point. Competition among consumers is the turbine of capitalism.”
Having dissenting opinions on music, politics and clothes is just a way middle-class Americans fight for status, McRaney says. The only reason people buy independent albums, organic food or fair-trade cotton is because they want to seem better than others.
“You sold out long ago in one way or another,” he writes.
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