The Quarantine Diaries 10: Consumerism Halted

In today’s post I take a look at what’s happening (or not happening) ‘out there’ in what used to be called ‘the real world.’ Commercial activities have been stripped down to the bare minimum, and many people have been brought to question their whole value system because of this.

Empty aisles

Carrefour, only open for essential purchases

Yesterday, I ventured into Fuengirola as we were running low on supplies, and I also needed to get out of the flat. The roads were quiet, so I was able to drive on the motorway without fearing for my life. I went to the main branch of Carrefour, where I found a queue of people waiting patiently outside the shop with their trolleys aligned 2m ‘safety distance’ apart. I didn’t think it was the safest idea to enter such a crowded space (we’re at over 150,000 known cases here in Spain, but the real figure could easily be 10 times that amount.) So I headed for the other branch of Carrefour which is housed within the town’s main shopping centre.

Ghost Mall

Shoppingg mall aisles left empty

The Centro Commercial Miramar is normally a social hub – full of locals heading for the cinema, and tourists doing their holiday shopping. Everyone shopping for things they don’t need. Consumerism as a leisure activity. All that is gone. Seeing the empty corridors of the mall was like an extended metaphor for the emptiness of our lives, before this happened. Now, the message comes through loud and clear: ‘All this stuff? You don’t need it! It was just a trick to keep you spending money and keep the rich getting richer. It was just a trap to keep you in your place.’ Or, as Caliban once said ‘it is but trash.’

Essential Items only

Commercial activity suspended
‘Commercial activity in this section suspended by Royal Decree’

The metaphor continued within the supermarket itself, which was quiet compared to its counterpart just down the road. I’d hoped to get my little boy a new pair of shoes, as he’s outgrown his current ones since we’ve been locked down. But whole sections of the supermarket were cordoned off, as shown in the photo: no video games, no clothes, no toys, no housewares. Of course, you can still buy these things online, the idea being to stop people heading to the supermarket for leisure purposes, not to halt consumerism altogether. But certainly the impression was that consumerism had been halted.

Time to re-evaluate our value systems

Strange and near-apocalyptic as it was to see the darkened aisles and empty shopping mall, it certainly gave me pause for thought about the value systems of the developed world. Whatever we want has always been there for the taking, so long as we’ve had the cash or credit to obtain it. Whatever we want, so long as it is purely material in nature. And now that the consumerist dream has been taken from us, what do we have left?

Ourselves, our souls, our loved ones, and time to value what is irreplaceable.

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