Monday, October 06, 2014
Consumer Culture and Mental Health
I was thinking about what a rich opportunity it is, in the aftermath of the climate week hoopla, for academic associations -- particularly in anthropology, sociology and psychology -- to solicit papers and schedule conferences on communications, journalism and public mental health in a netwar environment.
The social engineering and self-delusion on climate change is so pervasive and lethal in consequence, that I would expect at least a couple noteworthy op-eds in mainstream media, and maybe a high profile counter-narrative that views the celebritization of Naomi Klein as a mental health symptom of consumer culture thriving on fantasies.
This would be an appropriate topic, for instance, as a theme issue at IJOC, the International Journal of Communication. Maybe a feature story in Harper's or the New Yorker.
Recent research shows that renewable energy cannot even begin to come close to replacing fossil fuels at the level of US consumption, and that this consumer demand is increasing. Indeed, American culture is based on high consumption, and US society is mentally ill as a result. World Health Organization statistics note this mental health crisis is particularly pronounced in the US, and negatively affects immigrants when they try to adapt to the American way of life.
I think that many Americans who hope we can continue consuming four times the energy per capita as the rest of the world -- by developing some magical "clean energy" -- will become psychologically depressed as reality intrudes on this chimera. In my view, this geography of mental ill health (as well as official corruption) prevents the international community from achieving anything useful on the Kyoto Protocols, Cochabamba Accord, or UNDRIP.
Some conclude that Americans don't care enough about suffering in the rest of the world to curb their consumption.
My take is that Americans are politically illiterate, and in their infantile level of awareness, changing US society is so far beyond their collective ability that they cannot imagine anything but fantasies based on false hope and advertising.