Sassy and satirical, Shopomania is an economic, environmental and social study. This light-hearted, dark-souled dictionary of coined words, or “shoponyms,” takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of avaricious antics and outrageous profligacy.
Shopping in one form or another has existed for millennia but, aside from a few slumps, each generation has outdone the previous one. In the past fifty years, shopping—and its associated carbon footprint—has grown exponentially.
Berton argues that if we invented today’s consumer culture, then we can invent something to replace it. We can do a better job of making the cycle of stuff truly circular rather than linear. We can be more environmentally, socially and politically conscious of what we buy and how it comes to us—and where it will go after we are finished with it. A species that has made shopping ubiquitous can figure all these things out with little more than co-operation and creativity, and by asking if it is really necessary to “own it now” as we have been told—endlessly—since childhood. Must we possess a thing to enjoy it? Do we really need all that stuff?
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George Clooney promoted Nespresso coffee. Matthew McConaughey Lincoln cars. George Foreman, an Olympic gold medalist, heavyweight boxing champion and ordained minister, is better known for the George Foreman grill. They’re all shopostles.
An overflow of shopped items. We all have a mild case of this, but hoarders are chronic. The reprehensible newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst had a bad case, collecting so much stuff it required a block-long collection of warehouses five storys high to contain it all.
To shop while drunk. Go-go’s founder Belinda Carlisle, for example, once woke up after a night of drinking and drugs and discovered she’d bought a racehorse.
To shop without much consideration. Pop music pioneer Michael Jackson demonstrated this in a documentary on him, examining two paintings in a Las Vegas store for seven seconds before declaring: “Excuse me, I want that one there, and this one” at $50,000 apiece.
People like stuff, even when they are dead. And it’s not just King Tut and his relatives. Frank Sinatra, Bob Marley and Miles Davis were buried with stuff.
“Are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go buy things in storeS? asked Ronald Reagan famously as he campaigned for the U.S. presidency. A shopocracy is a nation ruled by shoppers. In other words, most of them.
Buying stuff you shouldn’t. Paul Manafort was a contrashopper before he was convicted and then pardoned by Donald Trump. If you buy elephant ivory or a fake Rolex you’re a contrashopper. Not declaring that stuff you’re bringing back from Italy? That’s contrashopping.
What we do at the water cooler, at dinner parties, while visiting friends and relatives. It’s safer – and more fun -- than religion and politics.
Those who know everything about a particular kind of item. Karl Lagerfeld had 300,000 books. Jay Leno has more than a hundred cars.
Your lunch date is late? Your meeting is cancelled? You’re spending a lazy afternoon on holidays. They are all shopportunities. A shop-op for short.