Queuing in the supermarket while waiting for somebody ahead of me to finish a lengthy conversation about Nothing Much with the checkout operator (I happen to know they are neighbours, for goodness’ sake), and waiting while the customer ahead forgot her pin….
I started to look forward to the day when credit cards have vanished and our shopping is scanned remotely as we approach the checkout and we pay by simply nodding at the scanner.
THEN – I had this great idea for a book about the future. I’m confident I can sell the film rights to.
In the future, say 2023, the world has fallen under the control of three equally balanced mega-retailing empires, each at endless war with the other for market share in a way that consumes society. Shopping has become the Universal Worship with Advertising as the Gospel that cements its power.
The CocaCola-Facebook-McDonalds Corporation (CFMC), The Tesco-Wal-Mart-Amazon Federation (TWMAF) and Google-Facebook-Apple Inc (GFAI) are the three blocs that determine Everything. Any new start-up company can only be a branch of one of these giants.
Actual governments have become mere enablers for one of these all-embracing business cultures. They have carved the globe into three equal segments. Where you live determines which one you love.
And which one you hate.
Every day there is a compulsory Two Minute Hate of anything and everything about the other two corporations leading into worship of the Only True Big Lifestyle, brought to to you by your Favourite Conglomerate.
Our hero, John Goodfellow works in the InterActive Adverts Department, part of the Truth Ministry. There are also Ministries of Technological Advancement, of Approved Entertainment and of Authorised Celebrity Following.
Shopping is as much part of living as breathing. There are punishments for disobedience, right up to death for the third offence. Even thoughts can be illegal and unhelpful, but to flout the rules is no longer in most people’s willpower.
Goodfellow has bad thoughts. He doesn’t want to be forced to live this way, so writes DOWN WITH SHOPPING in his actual, real paper diary.
That is two separate crimes. One to express that view in the first place and two, to keep a diary other than a shopping one. He meets a woman, Julie, who has NOT been selected for him by an algorithm based on his Shopping Preferences. And that’s another crime.
He accidentally makes contact with a bunch of rebels who have found a banned history book and discovered that life was different once and shopping was optional and there was some element of free choice in companies to buy from.
Just when he and Julie are going great guns and set to join others in making some sort of public protest, he is arrested. He is questioned about his shopping preferences, his illicit relationship, his deep mindset and beliefs. To ‘aid his memory’ and ‘encourage the Truth’ they apply various pain accentuating appliances to his body and suggest he could suffer ‘mind penalties’ if he doesn’t wake up and adore the Corporation and its aims.
There is a room, called ’99’ where people are sent to face their greatest fears. It is the ultimate torture and for John Goodfellow there is no greater fear than things that fly. Birds of all shapes and sizes, insects and moths. In that room he will confess everything, betray everybody and adopt whatever they want of him wholeheartedly just to avoid touching a flying creature.
Yes, a great plot for a book/film.
Hang on a minute, doesn’t it sound a bit like George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four written in 1948 about Winston Smith who commits Thoughtcrime and is tortured before facing rats in Room 101 and learning to love Big Brother?
Oh well, back to the shopping basket….
Shop around for other posts and rants:
The Way We Live is Exposed in Statistics, Data and Real Opinions, 7 January 2013
When Christmas Ads Become More Important Than TV Programmes, 24 December 2012
Diaries Are Still Kept, But Now Online and Not So Secret, 7 February 2012
Shock and Sell, Cry and Buy: the Slogans of Advertising, 13 December 2011