Friday, May 23, 2008

Weekly Geeks #4: Things that matter

This week’s theme for Weekly Geeks: Choose a political or social issue that matters to you. Find several books addressing that issue; they don’t have to books you’ve read, just books you might like to read. Using images (of the book covers or whatever you feel illustrates your topic) present these books in your blog.

Well, Dewey is certainly making me think! This has been on my mind for a few days now, just because there are many things that I care about. Then it was on my mind because I was trying to find the right words for the social issue that concerns me most. I couldn't come up with a word, but here are two: consumerism and commercialism.

These two concepts encompass so much, I know, but then all of these social issues are related to the state of the world and its future, sometimes it's hard to separate things.

Now, I am certainly not a minimalist person and I definitely like shopping as much as the next girl, but I don't understand why people need absolutely everything in double or in triple and in the largest size available. I don't understand why everything is reduced to having money. I don't understand why I have to pay for drinking water, why every event I go to means I am bombarded with advertising and why any kid can buy cigarettes. I don't understand why in a debate about GMOs, the argument 'for' consists of 'but otherwise trade would suffer'.

I think we've passed a line and if more people don't start to live life a tad differently then our world will change into something we can't even imagine.

I'm currently reading Jennifer Government by Max Barry. It takes place in a future where everything is run by big corporations - even the government is a big corporation and only has funding for crime prevention, but not punishment. So if a family member is killed, there can be no investigation until you put up the cash. It's a strange world, but some details about it make me think of today's world already. Probably not a good sign.

Along the same lines, David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas deals with how the world around us evolves. I read this a long time ago but I still think about it, it was powerful. This is the second time today that I plug it so if you noticed that know that I just really liked it, I'm not getting paid for publicising it or anything! The part of Cloud Atlas that takes place in the distant future shows us a world where fear and inhumanity are normal. Is that where we're heading?

Inhumanity and the concept of what exactly we're prepared to ignore to keep our own lives as comfortable as possible is also dealt with in Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. A chilling book, it depicts a certain state of things that at first glance seems unthinkable - but I don't think I'd be that surprised if I found out that it happens already.

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser really illustrates how industry works in the US and how people with no morals decide about things that affect our everyday lives. I read this book a long time ago and still think about it - very powerful. Not to mention that I haven't been able to set foot in a McDonald's since I finished it.

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan is one that I haven't read yet, it's planned for this year and I hope to get to it soon. All I know is that it's about going to the beginning of our food chain, which seems like a smart idea to me!

Not on the Label by Felicity Lawrence is another one I've been wanting to read for a while. The subtitle is 'what really goes in the food on your plate' so I'm sure I'll find it interesting. All this concentrating on making money had made people stop thinking about simple things like this.

I can't think of any more so maybe it's time to get down from my soap box. I hope my contribution to Weekly Geeks will be accepted, even though I didn't list ten books!


Kristi said...

Great topic and post! There are quite a few books here I've been meaning to/wanting to read. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser is still sitting on my TBR shelf, but I hope to get to it soon. I don't eat at McDonald's now, but I'm sure I'm going to be horrified anyway ;>). Mark Knopfler wrote a song called Boom Like That about the guy who started McDonald's fabulous song.

I put The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan on my list, too!

Kim L said...

What a great topic! I've been trying to question why I *must* upgrade to a new flatscreen TV or CD player or iPod, when I have ones that work just fine, if they are a bit old. Things and stuff are such status symbols in our society.