February 21, 2018

Reprogramming Bad Consumer Code Redux

I feel tainted by putting corporate logos on this blog, but I couldn't resist the power of this image. Artwork by Steve Cutts.

After our last post "Reprogramming Bad Consumer Code", reader and frequent comment participant, Madeleine, asked, "Yes, reprogramming is essential, but how to achieve it?"

That is the question, isn't it?

As Madeleine knows, the best thing voluntary simplicity has going for it is that it is a "thing of comfort and peace" compared to a regular 9 to 5 lifestyle plugged into a consumer pod that sucks the life, time, and money right out of you.

That alone makes me wonder why people aren't rushing enmasse out of the malls and straight toward the simple life.

Of course, there are many reasons that people initially find consumerism appealing. Many of those are institutional, systemic, and therefore difficult to avoid. However, there are ways to achieve a thorough reprogramming to get back to a more self-reliant, life-affirming, pre-consumer code.

Here are a few I have been thinking about.

Reprogramming The Consumer Brain

Question authority. Question everything.

Practice non-participation in the current economic system, as much as possible.

Free yourself from a 100% reliance on money by doing things like growing a garden, cooking your own food, bartering, and sharing.

Live with fewer material things. This makes possible a joyful engagement in the elegant simplicity of a life of just enough, free of endless desires and disappointments.

Educate yourself on the industrial military complex, and the industrial health complex, and the industrial food complex. And the industrial consumer complex. The industrial everything complex. Learn what happens when we participate in these sick systems with our votes and our money.

Read broadly rather than narrowly. Good books as well as good journalism. Read non-fiction and fiction. Every public library is full of the antidote to today's narrow revisioning of reality. The net opens up an amazing array of investigative tools.

Vet all information sources. Doubt the validity of mainstream narratives. Be curious, be skeptical. Analytical. To that, add your intuition and feel what makes sense to you.

Steer clear of organized anything. Don't put yourself in a pod, to be used and controlled by others.

Resist cultural programming and peer pressure. Do what you want to do. Assert your rights as an autonomous individual. Question anyone that wants to limit your experience of an open, unfettered existence.

Express and revel in your creative capacity. Allow yourself to think differently. See differently. Feel differently. Create the life you dream of.

Use mindfulness to become an observer of your own mental state and life. Take a step back. How does it all look? Is it a thing of comfort and peace? Is there joy? Harmony? Love?

Supplement your child's education with life lessons at home. Parents are children's primary teachers, whether this is recognized or not. Children learn a lot by observing parents and others. We should act accordingly. What message are we sending our children with our behaviour?

Think freely. Don't think. Continually improve your thinking, and not thinking.

Share good consumer-free code with everyone you meet.


  1. Every single day we’re working on it. It’s become our raison d’ĂȘtre!

  2. When I was working, I often felt that I never had time for my own, self-initiated thoughts. I also felt there was no freedom of speech at work. It takes awhile to recover from that suppression and nurture creativity within yourself. Or to feel it is safe to say what you think.

  3. Anonymous2/22/2018

    Yes, yes, yes! I have a young daughter (3.5) and we have consciously not scheduled her in organized activities so that she can freely play. At home we often walk in the woods or play by a lake. We also ask her to join in household tasks like cleaning our kitchen, making beds, folding clothes, and taking care of our belongings shows her we don’t just throw stuff away...we can help reprogram her (and ourselves) away from dominant cultural narratives! - your Palestinian reader:)

    1. Anonymous2/22/2018

      You have made a wonderful, positive decision for your daughter. When my children were little there was immense pressure to enrol in swimming, pre-school etc... Let them be kids! Unless your child is showing a strong passion or talent for something, time spent at home playing, digging in the garden and creating things is the best thing for them.


  4. Anonymous2/22/2018

    Wonderful! Forwarding this to my children now :-)


  5. Anonymous2/23/2018

    " . . .free of endless desires and disappointments." That's it in a nutshell, isn't it? I can't tell you how many times I have seen something online, become enamored of it, bought it, waited with anticipation for it to arrive, and then . . . the sweater didn't fit that well, the earrings were to flashy, the book wasn't that interesting . . .It took a while for the light to go on - I didn't need those things, I needed the dream of having them. I still enjoy looking at the nice sweaters, the jewelry, the books, but I finally learned that I have those things already. I can shop my closet if I want more variety, I can check out books from the library, I can borrow my sister's bike for a ride, all of it. I already have it. That is such freedom! I know I will always look yearningly at some things, but I am capable of stepping back and remembering the great stuff I have. This is a path that many of us are on, and it is so empowering!


    1. Anonymous2/24/2018

      Hi Sophie,

      I agree with you when you say you can still enjoy looking at things without owning them. Years ago I read about the idea that you don't have to own things to enjoy them - you can go for a walk and look at beautiful homes and gardens, go out into nature for free, go to an art gallery and just take it all in. Today I went to an antiques fair and especially enjoyed looking at things such as old English tea caddies, beautiful wooden drawers made to store Singer sewing notions in the shop etc...It was a pleasure to see it but it didn't need to come home with me :-)


    2. Anonymous2/24/2018

      Oh my, Sophie. Same with me, becoming enamored with something seen online, BOUGHT IT, waited with anticipation for it to arrive and then...it really was not for me, not my style, etc. I have been there too. Trying to be a more smarter, mindful consumer now. Sometimes, I'm not, but I can always return the purchase.

    3. Anonymous2/25/2018

      I am with you all too. I think it was Anthony Ungaro (author of Breaking the Twitch) that said “beware of false first steps.” For example, I might think, “I want to get fit!” And in a consumer culture that means: a) buying a fitness watch, b) purchasing new gym clothes etc but those are all false consumer steps. The simple and cost free path is to just begin walking outside or in place or lifting a heavy can or milk jug at home to gain fitness. I have to practice asking myself - am I buying (insert x item) because I need it or is it a false first step? -Palestinian reader aka Nadya


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