During the seven days that I decided to record my aspect of everyday life, I chose to focus on consumer culture and choice. An American studies course I am taking, titled Fashion and Consumer Culture, discusses consumerism, consumption, and the choices we make regarding the things we buy. We also discuss the influence the media and celebrity has on us, the consumers, when buying products, whether it is food, technology or clothing. I chose to focus on these aspects of everyday life because I am interested in why we make the choices we make in regards to consumption through not only what we buy, but what we view as well. I strongly believe that American society is all about choices and having options and through my journal log of my everyday life, you will see not only the aspect of choosing through several different things, but also other things, such as boredom and technology. I believe through most of the photographs some materialistic things are highlighted more than others to influence us to buy certain things. An aspect I believe that will be reoccurring throughout the pictures is the hidden practice of consumption, which will be further explained in detail as my everyday life is charted.
Day 1: Salad Bar
In our society today, healthy eating and sustainability is being promoted more than it used to be. Our First Lady Michelle Obama started a campaign titled, “let’s move” which promotes healthy food labeling, and a healthier diet in and out of schools for children. There is also a national program titled “lets move salad bars to schools” which advocates for every school in America to have a salad bar to promote a healthier lifestyle, especially with the major childhood obesity epidemic other health issues among our society. The placement of the salad bar in the middle of the diner is smart because everyone who goes into the diner always has to walk around the salad bar to get whatever food they desire. People are more likely to grab something from the salad bar since they have to pass it so many times while walking in the diner, thus making people second guess eating something that is not as healthy as something like spinach or beets. For me, the location of the salad bar represents and aspect of my daily life because I always get some items from the salad bar strictly due to it’s location. Sometimes that is the only place where I will eat from. I feel as though if it were in the back or not out in plain view like it is, then less people, including myself would go there, due to not having the option blatantly in our faces.
Day 2: Music
Very rarely will you ever see me without my headphones and iPod. You can tell a great deal about a person by not only the music they listen to, but even the style/color of their headphones. I will admit that I was influenced to get a pair of beats headphones by the celebrity advertisements constantly shown on television. I chose red as the color because it fits my personality; ambitious, selfish, arrogant, values respect, visionary. By buying the iPod and beats headphones, two popular brands, that shows that I was influenced by the celebrity culture aspect of having these items. I could have easily went with a lesser known brand of headphones of mp3 player, but by having these specific ones, I feel like I can relate or that I AM a celebrity in some ways because I have the same products that they do. That demonstrates the importance of celebrity endorsements for brands, in which I and so many other people are unknowingly influenced by.
Day 3: Bookstore
Another important aspect of my everyday life is the bookstore. Everyday, i walk through there, contemplating if I should buy new Maryland apparel, specifically under armour clothing. As i stated in the introduction, a huge part of American culture is consumption and choices. The ways the clothes are placed has meaning. The more expensive items, typically under armour wear, are placed in the back against the wall, whereas the cheaper items are in the middle hanging on the racks. I learned in my Fashion and Consumer Culture course that during the barbarian culture age, inexpensive clothes are said to be inferior while things are beautiful and serviceable if they are costly. The less expensive imitation of clothing offends us due to falling short in form, color, texture and is seen as counterfeit. In the early 1900s, the more expensive clothing in department stores was in the back and a worker had to get these items for you. This information is coming from the reading “The theory of the leisure class” by Thorstein Veblen. I chose this part of my everyday life to analyze more because it makes me wonder if I gravitate towards the under armour apparel more because it seen as “high class” and expensive due to its location, or because of the actual look of the clothing. It also makes me question why I tend to shy away from the clothing in the middle, or the less expensive items.
Day 4 : Common Shop
I chose the Common Shop aspect of my everyday life to critique because I thought it was a good demonstration of the hidden practices of consumption. Typically, every grocery store has a lot of candy or drinks near the check out line. In my Cultures of Everyday Life course, we learned that these items are put close to the line to not only make people pick up some candy or gum, but also to mind trick them into believing they need something else in the store, thus making them get of line to go find more items to buy. I normally walk in the common shop everyday to get something small like gum or a candy bar, but now that I think about it, I always get out of line to go walk throughout the store to get more items. The strategic placement of the candy, mints and other items near the cashier influences to go throughout the store and buy more, which goes along with the concept of consumerism, which is studying or interacting within the marketplace.
Day 5: Starbucks
I chose to include Starbucks as an aspect of my everyday life, because it depicts a place where I typically relax in between classes. Starbucks gives us the option of buying a light snack while being able to complete school work in a calming environment. Henri Lefebvre discussed passive leisure in his piece that we read in class. Passive leisure is a desire to refrain from exerting energy or just simply “lounging”. By offering wi-fi, food, and several different lounging chairs to sit and relax while playing music, Starbucks promotes an environment where people can sit and enjoy their coffee and just relax after a long day of work while doing absolutely nothing.
Day 6: Library
The library to me demonstrates the concept of boredom that we discussed in class. I go to the library everyday to do some type of work, whether it is papers or reading articles. Very little socializing occurs in the library with me, especially when i have my music playing. All of the people in the photo seemed bored by their school work that they had to complete. Leisure and boredom can go hand and hand and while some people in the library (including myself at this moment) are engaging in active leisure, there is still an aspect of boredom because we are doing homework, something most of us probably would not like to be doing at the moment. The homework we are doing is seen as a necessity and the people seen walking around or talking with others could be viewed as seeking a distraction or leisure from their work/obligation. Something else I noticed is the way the computers are set up, which promotes an active studying environment, as they are close with others. Technology is all throughout the library as well which depicts how much we rely on it to not only do our work, but to complete our everyday activities as well.
Day 7: Food Court
The Food Court on campus intertwines the aspects of food, entertainment and communication all in one. I walk through the food court everyday, whether to get food myself or to just stop and talk with friends. It is seen as a place where people come to buy food and socialize with their peers. Consumer choice is important within the food court, as several different options are available to choose from and we as Americans love options. The placement of a food court on campus can represent a consumption place for recharging and blueprinting your next purchase. Because there is so many places to choose from, people may decide to get things from everywhere just because they can. Something we do not think about is that a food court is a place of comradely or community gathering. In some ways though, the food court could be seen as a negative towards communal building and relationships because of the influx of customers and consumers daily.