Internet Video Sensation Challenges American Consumerism
The “Story of Stuff” is a 20 minute video, which presents a simplified view of the way our society functions along with some of the shortcomings of our economic system. In this short animated video, Annie Leonard, the creator, shows how we, as a nation, are obsessed with consumption solely for the sake of consuming. However, she points out that this actually may not be our fault.
This video explains the production line, of which all of the ‘stuff’ we consume follows. It starts with extraction, which she says is a “fancy word for natural resource exploitation or trashing the environment,” and moves to production, distribution, consumption and ends with disposal. She shows how the government and large multinational corporations have, over time have changed our mindsets and consumption habits to increase profit. She also shows how the true cost of the ‘stuff’ we ‘need’ is not represented in its price due to high externalizing of both social and environmental costs.
This amazingly concise and informative video, which has grown in popularity within grade schools throughout the US, teaches us about where our ‘stuff’ comes from and where it goes when we are through with it. This is a great example of how one person can make a huge difference in changing the way people think about their relationship with the earth. This video has already been viewed by almost six million people and has certainly inspired thousands upon thousands of people to rethink their consumption patterns.
However, the responses to this video have not all been positive. Its critics feel that this video teaches the children of America, as well as the rest of the world, the bad side of capitalism without showing some of its benefits.
Although this video is incredibly simplified, it forces people to think to themselves: “How much do I really ‘need’ to consume?” It starts that inner dialogue that has not been in the American psyche since well before my time. As a great man once told me, “it is important to live within one’s means,” and this video and overall movement gives us extra incentive to do so.