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Naiomi Wolf and changing lifestyles.

March 19, 2012

Sometime in December 2011, I read a short opinion piece by Naomi Wolf in the Bangkok Post in which she mentioned that she had noticed a trend by some young adults for the most part, to choose to live a lower impact lifestyle. This was not the quasi-religious back to nature life styles movement favored by the Hippies, nor was it the life of hopeless desperation that gripped much of the Nation in the 1930s. It seems to be here that a number of the modern descendants of those prior movements are simply deciding on a simpler way of life because the alternative, even if accessible, is no longer as desirable. An ideal life based almost exclusively upon greed is being found wanting.

The impact of this change in goals, as she pointed out, could be momentous. It does not take many people to decide, for example, that they do not need a second car for its reverberations for good or ill to be felt throughout society. In that example, the failure of the automotive industry to grow at a rate equivalent to population growth, replacement and a little more, would have severe consequences to the economy that cannot be remedied by lower prices or financing.

What Ms Wolf did not mention that some of those entering their most economically productive years are the members of the social network, mobile entertainment and information generation. Their life style choices could exacerbate the economic and social impacts of the trend she writes about.

For example, our transportation, fashion, entertainment, adult and a host of other choices often require our traveling somewhere, frequently with the hope to impress those we meet along the way with our abilities, success or whatever else is important to our sense of self-worth. Conspicuous consumption of even some of the wealthiest among us may become less a function of acquisition of physical things then it is now. (Why two Ferrari when you do not need to alter your location for most of your social or business needs?) Some of us for instance may decide that public transportation, although longer in trip duration and often lacking in comfort, is mitigated by the fact that your mobile, work, entertainment and social needs must be somewhat curtailed during your drive should you choose to do so.

It would not require more than a few of us to make these choices for it to rock the economy in ways that standard financial theory is unable to manage, based as it is on production and finance, causing the economy to contract and perhaps collapse.

Strange as it may seem, it may be that this social change more than technological invention or energy conservation that delay’s the impact of the hydrocarbon threat.

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