Inconspicuous Production

Money may make things easier, but it doesn't make people better.

I first learned about Conspicuous Consumption in a college history class, America From 1877 to the Present. It was a pivotal time on our country’s growth, with the onslaught of the Industrial Age and increasing influence of media (radio, film, television, the INTERNET, etc). Coined by sociologist and economist Thorstein Veblen, Conspicuous Consumption is the “spending of money on and the acquiring of luxury goods and services to publicly display economic power” and status.

Certainly the practice has existed for as long as wealth and poverty have separated people groups, but it seems to have found a strong foothold in the American middle class, those seeking to emulate the American Dream like the Vanderbilts, Carnegies, Gates, Jobs, and [insert wealthy friends’ names].

Yet consuming more isn’t the answer. Money may make things easier sometimes, but it doesn’t make people happy or better. So what’s the alternative? If having money and gaining wealth isn’t the goal, what is? The opposite of Conspicuous Consumption, then, could be Inconspicuous Production. Rather than collecting more in order to feel significant, one could contribute more, making goods and providing services. Add value. Not in order to gain importance or a feeling of worth, but for the joy of it. Inconspicuous-like, not looking for the notice of others.

This is my challenge in the new year. Make things. Do it well. Do it for the fun of it. Learn and grow and do what I love. Be who I am created to be. Rejoice.