What Does Our Culture of Consumption Actually Look Like?

Most of us know deep down that we don’t really need the newest car, the fastest technology or the latest clothing, yet we keep consuming because we want those things. We keep consuming because the media tells us that to fit in to our desired social groups we need to belong through consumption, and it feels good to belong. But what is the true cost of our consumption?

Photographer Chris Jordan snapped a few photos that illuminate what the waste produced by our constant consumption actually looks like. He says, “As an American consumer myself, I am in no position to finger wag; but I do know that when we reflect on a difficult question in the absence of an answer, our attention can turn inward, and in that space may exist the possibility of some evolution of thought or action. So my hope is that these photographs can serve as portals to a kind of cultural self-inquiry. It may not be the most comfortable terrain, but I have heard it said that in risking self-awareness, at least we know that we are awake.”

cell phones

Cell phones #2, Atlanta 2005

Check out more of Jordan’s photos here:


1 Comment

  1. ccceprosperity

    I think this is really a testament to just how powerful the social logic of consumerism is–because the problem is, I am self aware. Pictures like these (though visually interesting) no longer surprise me in the least. I see the effects of my consumption and I go on with my day to day life. I think it’s mostly difficult because we ourselves can’t see any tangible effects of our consumption in our everyday lives. We don’t deal with the effects of mining/resource extraction, pollution, and environmental degradation here in our Emerald City–so where’s the motivation for us to change, even if we are self-aware? –Kaleigh B

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