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A List of Stupid Things We Can Live Without…But Capitalism Makes Us Think We Need

This is far from an exhaustive list of all the junk we have all been conned into buying due to capitalism’s endless need to commodify everything. Instead, it’s just a few moronic things we don’t need, or at least, shouldn’t need.

Credit cards

These little plastic bastards are vampires. Now, I feel there is an extremely limited scope of actual value to a credit card. Sure, they are good for emergencies. But that is all. For travel, take a card that you load your own money onto, or just take cash. Keep the credit card tucked away in the darkest recesses of your luggage, and let it only see the light of day in the most dire of emergencies. For all other occasions, credit cards will eventually do more harm than good. If one arrives in the mail, treat it like you would a delivery of anthrax.

Gift cards

What is the point? If you want to give someone a present, either put some thought into it, or throw them some cash. Gift cards are the worst of both worlds. They prove you didn’t know what to buy, and they are inferior to cold, hand cash.

Vacuum cleaners…and carpet

If you don’t have one, you don’t need the other!

Most of your clothes

Ok, so not everyone wants to live off three pairs of underwear like I do. I get it. But, really? How many clothes do you actually need?

Mops

Here’s a sweet lifehack I’ve been taught by my Venezuelan housemates: after you’ve finished sweeping, put a wet rag over the broom, and you have a discount mop.

Lawn mowers

Another lifehack from Venezuela: a machete is cheaper, deals with slopes and is generally more awesome than any lawn mower.

Irons and ironing boards

Since I moved to Venezuela, none of my clothes have been ironed. And they look fine. Really.

The non-generic option of almost everything

First, there are some notable exceptions. Everyone knows that cheap alcohol hurts the next morning. Some people (like me) like a quality cup of coffee sometimes. I’m guessing there are a few other exceptions. But, in general, the generic option is almost always just fine. Generic pasta, generic rice, generic jam, generic medicine, generic razors, generic whatever. It’s the same shit, it just looks shittier.

Shaving cream

Here in Venezuela, shaving cream is stupidly expensive, and I’ve quickly discovered that shaving with ordinary soap works just fine once you get used to it. Maybe in parts of the world where the price difference between soap you can steal from hotels and generic shaving cream is negligible, then there’s nothing wrong with buying the latter. But whenever there’s a notable price difference, to me it just seems like a waste of money buying cream.

Cars

For most people in the industrial world, cars are 100% necessary to get from A to B. I know from living in Australia that I wouldn’t have been able to get to work, see friends, or do anything really without a car- but that’s not how it should be. We should have affordable, comprehensive public transport. I mean, public transport is better for the environment, safer and basically just better for society. If everyone spent as much money as they do on their car on public transport instead, then the buses and trains would be fucking awesome shit. Surely, if our economies can produce millions of cars, we should be capable of producing decent public transport instead.

Watches

I have one, and I look at it every 10 minutes. But I can accept that it is redundant. There is a clock on my phone, on my bedside cupboard, in my computer, and in every office on the face of the earth.

TV

90% of what appears on TV is crap, and the other 10% is on Youtube, or a torrent somewhere.

Microwaves

The only thing I have ever done with a microwave that couldn’t have be achieved with an oven, frying pan or hotplate was making a cheese square explode in its plastic wrapper in 8 minutes.

Toasters

Just use a hotplate!

Anything that could be a hotplate.

(Refer to previous explanation)

That new thing Sony just released

Whatever it is that Sony just released, or is just about to release is crap. Every time they have some big marketing campaign, they somehow convince people that whatever expensive crap they have just dragged out is somehow going to improve their lives. It isn’t. It’s just some stupid thing that will annoy you, frustrate you and eventually make you buy something from Microsoft.

Anything made by Apple

Now, unlike Sony there is an important exception here. Apparently, Macs are great for graphic designers. After watching Windows choke when I try and edit a high res photograph too many times, I’ve decided that this argument could have something behind it. But, unless you’re a graphic designer, Macs seem like a waste of time. Same goes for pretty much everything else with an Apple logo on it. Only, even graphic designers have no reason to buy an ipad, ipod, iphone or whatever. They are all just expensive, brittle shiny things that will either be stolen from your bag, outdated or broken within 12 months.

90% of cleaning products

You can clean everything in your house with just vinegar, bicarb soda, lemon, normal soap and something that smells bad and is made mostly of alcohol, and rags. Nobody needs hospital grade antibacterial bullshit, unless they plan on performing open heart surgery in their living room (or unless they actually work in a hospital…yeah, that would make sense too).

Dishwashers

Really, unless it comes with the house, who cares?

Dryers

This depends a lot on climate. I happen to live in the tropics, so whenever I meet someone here that owns a dryer, I get suspicious. But, I’ve also been to places where I don’t wake up in a pool of sweat every second day. In those places, maybe a dryer makes sense, I don’t know.

Toilet paper

So, I confess I still buy it. But, really, what the fuck? We chop down millions of trees, just so we don’t have to use their leaves, or heck, even the hose.

Napkins

Why? Just, why? If you have toilet paper, use that. If not, just wash your face or whatever.

Coffee machines

I have never found a coffee machine that makes a coffee better than something you can whip up in your average cafetera. And I’m a coffee-aholic, so I know this shit. Moreover, cafeteras, drips and plungers rarely seem to fuck up bigtime. Fancy pants coffee machines, however, seem to hate me. Naturally, they always seem to stop working when I’m most in need of caffeine. The most likely explanation for this is that I can’t operate complex machinery with a hang over, but that doesn’t detract from my point. Dealing with a dozen flashing lights when you desperately need a coffee is hell. Pouring water into a pot…less so.

Hot showers

They are bad for your skin, and fuck up every time someone flushes the toilet. Cold showers, on the other hand, are great once you get used to them.

Anything that can be substituted for a rag or a piece of old newspaper

Just stop and think- how many cleaning products are just glorified rags, or expensive replacements for old newspaper?

Chemical fertiliser

Because I’m yet to find a batch of compost that stinks more than Monsanto.

Travel agents

I’m sorry travel agents, but really. Now, I understand that not everyone is travel obsessed, and there is nothing strange about being daunted by the idea of planning a big trip on your own. But of course, in the internet age you are never alone (hi NSA!). Booking everything from flights to hotels can easily be done online. If you want to burn money on travel insurance (which is pretty much useless), that can easily be arranged online too. Between Wikitravel, Thorn Tree, Trip Advisor and a plethora of other great internet tools, putting together your own custom itinerary is also easy even if you’ve never travelled in your life. Your government’s foreign affairs department almost certainly has some half decent information on visa requirements (though you should ALWAYS contact the destination country’s embassy). Then, of course, if you want to know about the local culture, food or whatever, that is also achievable with a few Google searches. Again, sorry travel agents, but really, the internet has stolen your job. Oh yeah, and sure, you don’t technically buy travel agents, but you pay for their services ya?

Everything in the gym

Get some bricks and bits of elastic, and just figure something out like MacGyver would.

High heels

Maybe as a man, I have no right to venture here. But high heels are just something I can’t understand. Why wear something that impedes your movement and could do long term damage to your body? Is it really worth it just to get a semi-deadly weapon past security?

Shampoo

Glorified soap.

Children

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have kids, I’m just saying you don’t need them. Society seems to make people think that children are 100% necessary to be a fully developed human being. Apart from the fact that they are expensive and that our planet is already heaving under the weight of so many people, there’s nothing wrong with having kids if you really want them. But, do you really want them, really?

Marriage

It only really makes sense in immigration terms. Though again, this isn’t an argument against marriage, just an argument against the idea that marriage is a necessity.

Processed foods

As a general rule of thumb, I’ve decided that if something is not immediately recognisable as being derived from something that was once alive in some way, then I’d rather not eat it. Along with flour, bread, and a few other common exceptions, I’d also exclude anything made by a professional, qualified chef from this rule. I happen to know a few badass chefs who make shit that looks like art, and I’d eat anything they plated without question.

This thing.

What. The. Fuck?

Pyjamas

Clothes designed only to sleep in just don’t seem necessary.

Deodorant

If everyone just agreed to not complain, we’d all save a lot of money.

Christmas trees

A real tree seems kinda cool, if redundant in a society where pagan rituals aren’t really adhered to much on a mass scale. But a piece of wonky plastic in your living room for a month? Why?

Most of Christmas presents you have ever received

You know it.

Anything in an infomercial

Back when I had a TV, one of my less glamorous hobbies was to get drunk after work and watch infomercials for cheap laughs. I’ve come to think of myself as a well seasoned infomercial viewer, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I have never, ever seen anything even vaguely worth the effort of buying. It doesn’t matter if it comes with a complimentary set of steak knives, half a dozen instruction manuals, a cheese grater and a miniature replica of the Santa Maria. I mean, if the product is so dubious that it needs to be posted along with a bloated entourage of bullshit you actually didn’t want in the first place, then it probably isn’t the same thing they use in the best Parisian restaurants, the Navy SEALs or Amazonian jungle villages.

Anything in online advertisements

Given the sheer size of the internet, maybe one day something will come along and break this rule, but I’m doubtful. Now I’m not referring to things sprooked on forums, blogs etc by real people. I’m talking just about pop-up ads and the like. Bullshit like online Alzheimer’s tests, mmorpgs that no one plays, and of course, moronic get-rich-quick schemes. Moreover, even though companies like Google basically know everything about me, they still can’t seem to find anything in the entire world of stupid internet ads that I might actually be interested in. For example, ever since I got involved in Palestinian solidarity activism, Facebook has been insisting that I should study in Israel. Then after I travelled to Morocco, it started telling me that my Muslim soulmate is waiting for me on a Muslim dating site, despite the fact that Facebook knows I’m in a relationship.

Fuck it, 90% of everything advertised in the history of humanity is probably crap

If you need to bombard people with advertising to make them buy whatever you’re selling, then whatever you’re selling is probably stupid.

Bosses

Think, wouldn’t your workplace just work better if most decisions were made democratically? With the exception of training new workers, in general workplace hierarchies just seem to fuck things up. I’m not saying rules are bad, I’m saying that when one person makes all the rules, they tend to be bad. Everywhere I’ve ever worked, the best solutions to problems have always come from the workers who do the job- never the boss. Why? Because workers generally know how to do their jobs better than their bosses. Moreover, surely if everyone employed by a business owned it, they would have more invested interest to do a decent job than if they’re a wage worker.

2 Comments on A List of Stupid Things We Can Live Without…But Capitalism Makes Us Think We Need

  1. You are a Genius. I loved the title and background picture.. It fits perfectly with your post. I truly enjoyed reading your thoughts. Thank you

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