Thu Oct 27 08:57:46 SAST 2016

Consumer society eats itself - are your kids prey?

By unknown | Sep 27, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

I came, I saw, I conquered, so quoted my son yesterday. I mean, the 18-year-old Sechaba is just about to write his final matric exams.

I came, I saw, I conquered, so quoted my son yesterday. I mean, the 18-year-old Sechaba is just about to write his final matric exams.

Quoting the famous line by Julius Caesar, veni, vidi, vici, in its Latin version, it was he who initiated the conversation.

I actually sprang to attention when he started engaging me.

I don't mistrust my son, you see. The boy is just like any other teenager struggling to grow in these turbulent times. That scares me and you will see why.

"I have lost a lot of friends, six of them this year," Sechaba says.

I thought he was talking about broken friendships as is these youngsters wont.

"I buried them, Pa," he says.

He went on to explain how they died violently, some much younger than him.

Sechaba tells me that some of them died very fast, literally, after being involved in what he termed "automobile accidents".

"They are living the fast life, drive cars and do things that teenagers are not supposed to do," he says.

At this point I'm really interested in this discussion and wonder what solicited it.

I probed further.

"Why are you saying this?"

Sechaba says it is because his mother and I paint him with the same brush as the rest of the teenagers in the fast lane.

In his rationale, the boy says the media is to blame.

"We're exposed to all sorts of lifestyles which are portrayed in the media - television, movies, newspapers, advertisements, music videos and everything that comes from America," he says.

I ask: "Are you saying you're not like the rest of your peers?"

He responds by saying he is just like them because of the times.

"Most teenagers think they have come, seen and conquered the world," he says.

My son tells me that most young people think they rule the world. Parents are there to fulfil basic needs such as food, shelter and, of course, money.

"Unfortunately, for some of us these basics include a car which complements your expensive clothes and gadgets such as cellphones, Playstation and Xbox."

French cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard said: "Our society thinks itself and speaks itself as a consumer society. As much as it consumes anything, it consumes itself as consumer society, as an idea. Advertising is the triumphal paean to that idea."

I think this speaks to all parents of teenagers and begs the question: How often do you speak to your teenage daughter, for instance?

I am inclined to believe that my son is anxious not to fall prey to the lure of this consumer society.

He is trying hard in the face of this bombardment and I sigh with relief each time I see him run to open the gate when I come home from work.

The next time he runs up the driveway I will tell him: "I am happy to see you, my son.''


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