The Walking Dead provokes us to imagine a world of mindless people. Their humanity is gone, and they are driven by their hunger for “flesh.” In our contemporary world consumerism has taken on dark reality; humans are commodified as a convenient way to make our goods affordable. Women and children are sold by the tens of thousands to work in India and Bangladesh, picking cotton for the fashion industry. In West Africa hundreds of thousands of children have been trafficked into Ivory Coast to pick cocoa beans, which meet our chocolate demands. Even in America, private prisons use prisoners to produce goods at less than $1 a day. And what do we think about this? Well, the truth is we don’t.
In our generation we are born to be consumers. Literally. We are raised with the idea that to consume is to be human. I cannot exaggerate this point.
It is estimated we see or hear five thousand commercial messages a day. That’s once every 11.52 seconds. The advertising industry spends twelve billion dollars a year on ads targeting children alone. Children see forty thousand TV commercials a year (on average). One report has shown that after just one exposure to a commercial, children can recall the ad’s content and have a desire for the product. Americans spend at least 15 percent of their household income on things they don’t need to satisfy their vices or to keep themselves amused.
We are spending a lot, and we’ve never been more miserable. According to the CDC, the rate of antidepressant use has surged 400 percent over the last decade, which may also be due to the heavy marketing of drugs like Zoloft, Lexapro, and Paxil.
More than one-quarter of American adults define themselves as obese, according to the Well-Being Index calculated by market research group Gallup and healthcare consultancy Healthways. But the real obesity rate is closer to one-third of the population, says Margo G. Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Washington, DC–based nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest.
These days, consumerism has passed the point of common sense. At this point companies don’t just care about the merits of a specific product, but how you feel about it. Advertisers attempt to make us dissatisfied with our life or current products so we naturally consume more. Make us consuming machines and every company wins. But who loses? The zombie-like effect this has on our humanity is epic. It produces debt, hoarding unnecessary stuff, obesity. Like zombies, we are consuming ourselves.
Is this consumption disease a willful attempt to wipe out humanity? Is it a conspiracy? A genetic mutation? I don’t know. Who can tell the origin of this disease? It might have started with a selfish decision made a long time ago (more on that later). Excessive capitalism meets personal greed, and voilà—we have a new disease that threatens the very existence of the world.
Isn’t that a bit of a stretch? No. We are at an unprecedented time in history. Never has there been a generation closer to the end of the world than today. Global warming threatens the earth. Pollution is killing the oceans and our food sources. Half the world is starving, and all it would take to change the course of history is for people to stop consuming. But we can’t.
Taken from The Zombie Gospel by Danielle Strickland. ©2017 by Danielle Strickland. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove IL 60515-1426.
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