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Diamonds are forever?
Diamonds are forever?
Diamonds: the 65 year old consumer phenomenon that may well represent the paradigm shift in consumer thinking. A South African diamond mining company, DeBeers, starts a slogan in the 1940's appealing to soon to be newlyweds of the ultimate engagement gift: "Diamonds are Forever." Nevermind the hypocrisy around Kanye West's recent Foray on the subject.
Diamonds are not rare. In fact they are quite common, and rubies, emeralds and the like represent rarer stones. The substance from which they are comprised, carbon, is one of the most common elements on earth. But monopolies tend to bottleneck supply and create their own market, as long as there's buyer, and there are plenty of those who do so unquestioningly.
So, take a successful promotion and it soon turns into a quasi-cultural phenomenon, where almost every wedding engagement between a man and a women involves the transaction of a diamond. It's expected, and no-one really seems to know why?
It reeks of our Western culture's complete surrender to consumer ideal. Our want of free capital markets have blinded us. Diamonds--okay, but I'm talking about everything...go to the store today, and what do you see (or not see): X-box's and IPOD's have cleared the shelves, every gadget, gimmick, and distraction is not only for sale, but we feel obliged to buy buy buy. Christmas has been undermined co-opted by corporations, who bombard us with every trinket knowing we MUST BUY.
This is a true example of manufacturing consent. Most of us will rhetorically comment, "It's not about gifts and things, it's about family" but we'll stand in line while we say it. We have taken "keeping up with the Jones'" to the next level, now keeping up with the entire neighbourhood, lest we feel somehow underprivelaged. North America started the virus, and it has spread worldwide. We blithely adopt environmentally responsible disposal practices, but don't abstain from the source of all the garbage. We discard, yes...but conscientiously.
We have turned shopping into another quasi-cultural phenomenon. I'm guilty of it...I know, and I'm sickened by it. Meanwhile, we are tempted with oodles of uselessness, being told it serves a purpose. Every musical artist has a new release of greatest hits that are even greater than the same release the year before. Every DVD has a new special edition even more special the the previous special edition. The new gaming console has better graphics meaning your old, cheaper console, was crappy all along and no longer functions as well as the Jones' (but you still have to pay $100 for a game). At the end of the day, we are told that to spit at this orgy of shopping is to lack the CHristmas spirit. This is an irony of ironies...the happiest Christmas's seem to always be the most frugal.
Like our use for diamonds, we've created artifice, and tied it to something wonderful. For diamonds, it's marriage, and for Christmas, it's manic consumerism. Both sully the more important aspects of the occassion, and put focus where it was never meant to be. And anyone who knows anything knows diamonds AREN'T forever, and that's just the first of many lies you're told to get you to loosen your purse strings. Just be sure not to loosen your heart strings. Merry Christmas, all.