Thursday, January 9, 2014

Post New Year Consumerism and Why It's Not a Good Thing

I'm here to pick a fight. A big one. Because I'm honestly sick of seeing people swindled. I'm picking a fight with the corporations, the conglomerates, and the subsidiaries. The ones that are telling you, in your post-new-year-new-you resolution, that you need something. What is that? I don't know. It could be those new Nikes. Perhaps a new Polar GPS watch, that thing tracks cadence, heart rate, speed, distance, and a whole lot of other things that I don't really need to know. Maybe it's a new waterproof jacket that will repel rain, snow, sleet, hail, and possible a tomahawk cruise missile.

See, the new year used to mean something. When my parents' parents made resolutions to do something, they got up and did it. The didn't need a $500 Nike jacket to motivate them to go outside and run. No matter what they did, it was still going to be freezing cold. No, they put on another sweatshirt and some long socks and went out and ran.

Now, the new year is the last hurrah for companies who started their holiday marketing in November. But I want to make this point in a round about way. Let me begin with a question: Why is running so attractive to us? Is it because it's easy? Maybe, running can be as easy or as difficult as you care to make it. Perhaps because it makes you fit? Running is one of the, if not the, most popular and prevalent physical activity.

Just one of many examples that Nike uses every year to rope in consumers.
I would argue that the answer is none of the above. Certainly those are factors in people choosing to run. But the reason that most people choose to run is because running is simple. It requires no mechanical devices, nothing more than a pair of shoes and some sort of active wear. Yet we're bombarded by Nike, Adidas, and Garmin telling us that we need a reflective jacket, a MiCoach, and a GPS watch just to run.

But this, this consumerism, is taking away from a beautiful sport. And beauty is found in the simplicity because, according to da Vinci, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." I love that: the ultimate sophistication. It is so very true. He also once said that the human foot is "...a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art." We don't need this stuff. What we need is fresh legs, not fresh gear. Fresh foods, not fresh from a factory. In that we can rediscover the beauty of sport and that is my New Years Resolution.

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