Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy ~ By James A. Roberts
Right at the top of the review I am going to tell you I thought Shiny Objects was a 5 (ladybugs) book. It is exceptional and if you only read one non-fiction book in the coming year, I think you would be wise to pick this one.
“ If you want to live the American Dream, one would need to move to Denmark.” Richard Wilkinson, July 2011 Ted Lecture on Economic Inequality
Shiny Objects is a well written study about how we have become one of the most successfully materialistic cultures ever experienced. James Roberts is a Professor of Marketing at Baylor University and he takes us slowly and deliberately through the steps of how we got to this peak and how our natural disposition towards materialism was promoted and designed to drop us into the correct chute. Very kindly, Robert’s last few chapters of the book provide the ladders and the hindsight to help us up and out of the mire; including reminders that ignorance is not bliss and it is our responsibility for recovery. I will just say that his tests and quizzes throughout the book are invaluable tools for assessing one’s true standing in this world of Materialism and where we might need to work at making changes in order to survive and come out standing upright and provided for our own futures.
Truthfully, almost everyone in the USA believes they can become part of the 1% and many, many of the immigrants to this country attest to that belief. Yet, decade after decade we are so distracted by marketing ploys and Shiny Objects dangled in front of us as treasures that we still are deluded. We work longer hours than nearly any other country on the planet and it is not proving to be so that we can get to the top but so that we can pay off our credit cards and get out of debt. “ We are not all meant to own our own homes.” We are in love with our credit cards and our Shiny Objects and we are on a consumption binge.
“ We toss out 140 million cell phones each year, use 1 million brown-paper bags each hour (yes, hour), expend 1 million plastic cups on commercial airplanes every six hours, and run through 2 million petroleum-based plastic bottles every five minutes.”
We have learned over the years through the media suggesting it repeatedly that we may not reach our goals for a long time and not without a great deal of effort. So why wait? Why not enjoy your life now and pay for it later? Marketers, politicians and many religious pillars are all just waiting for you to take on this attitude and enroll in another credit card offer. We are repeatedly told this until we believe it to be true. We are trying to buy our happiness (see the Constitution) and build our self-worth and esteem through Shiny Objects and credit.
“The ability to delay gratification signifies the transition from an impulsive driven existence to a higher order, future oriented perspective.” Sigmund Freud
Robert’s peels back the layers and layers of design and mythology within the framework of history, and the knowledge and skills he shares with his students. He takes on everyone including students, politicians, Prosperity Gospel Preachers, and each of us as individuals. He challenges us to find self-esteem an inside job and to pursue deeper meaning and satisfaction through more humane channels.
I know I have been practicing Voluntary Simplicity for 30 years now, have been environmentally pro-active, and am a child of Depression Era parents, and I do not watch TV. I was amazed at how influenced I am as evidenced by the taking of each of the questionnaires and self-testing with the complete appendix overview. I am wiser for having read Shiny Objects.
“Iron Man2, [the movie], contained a league-leading 64 product placements. … “The Biggest Loser, [TV show], had an eye-popping 250 product placements per show. American Idol had 4,151 [product placements] in its first thirty-eight episodes of 2008”
This book was an amazing integration of so many of the books I have read recently, and yet, it does not just report the problems and the test results, it does not just share with us why this marketing works so well as to delude us, and it gives us the steps to liberate us from this dragon. We definitely need to smarten up and not keep allowing the system to dumb us down.
“Credit Cards Can Make You Fat.”
If you purchase anything from this site from Amazon, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.