Time, morality, and $39 T-shirts

It’s been a few days now since deleting both Facebook and Yelp, my two and only social media accounts. It felt strange not checking into Arthur Murray Dance Studio last night for our group salsa lesson. I was the Yelp Duchess of that place, but now I have no proof.

Since turning my smartphone into a dumb phone, I’ve noticed I spend considerably less time doing nothing. You know what I mean. Smartphones are masters of perpetuating the intense need to do nothing. I even turned the wallpaper and screensaver blank white, in true minimalist fashion. It’s so boring to look at, which is the point. This is working.

My Pixel XL is pure utility, and Project Fi is carrying me through dumb phone heaven for a mere $20 per month, minus referral credits which I seem to rack up because people want to switch over. Project Fi might be Google’s attempt to mine even more of their most precious resource: personal data, but I feel so powerless against The Machine that I’ll gladly pay $20 per month to hand it all over. Philosophically, this is both sad and problematic, but I’ll panic about that later. Right now I’m focused on mastering my most precious resource: time.

Sometimes, I’ll find myself scrolling on Goodreads, but Reading Is Fundamental. I count that as semi-productive time. Unless I get lost on someone’s profile reading reviews of  books I’ll never read. Then I’m just back to wasting time and avoiding being with my own thoughts, which again, is what smartphones are masters at making us do.

Yesterday I put all those dresses in a box. There’s a donation pickup coming on February 19 and I am warming to the idea of giving them all away. Having a job has seriously eased my miserly tendencies. I’m eyeing my bookshelf next. Konmari will prevail! I also took a few more steps toward creating my ultimate capsule wardrobe, meaning I put a few more things in that box and also invested in some basics at Target.

Did you know you can buy a T-shirt for $7 brand new? Fuck. I had no idea. I’ve literally never shopped at Target. The real cost is, of course, child labor and serious environmental concern, but $7 and a soft 100% cotton pre-shrunk fitted T-shirt? I succumbed.

That’s what these goddamn corporations do to us. Why pay $39 at Patagonia when I could pay $7 at Target? To feel better about myself? Even with their lifetime warranty, I could go through 5 Target shirts for the price of one Patagonia, and then invest money I saved into efforts that have a bigger impact than the environmental and human cost of one shirt. And in my experience, cotton T-shirts are virtually indestructible, so lifetime warranties are moot. This is the problem, and I am now a part of it. Cognitive dissonance has already set in and I’ve forgotten all about the child slaves in Indonesia and the indestructible and therefore nondecomposable quality of fabrics.

But do you know how much effort I’d have to exert to be totally morally aligned with my environmental and human concerns? So much. Therefore, I think it’s probably impossible to live completely in alignment with your beliefs. It’s like we’re forced to violate ourselves every day, in one way or another, and the only thing stopping us from feeling like the total pieces of shit that we all are is pervasive forms of distraction. Like smartphones.

There are too many hidden costs behind everyday conveniences. Costs we never see and don’t even know about because we can’t know everything. We just have to choose which stuff makes us feel the worst, and which stuff to learn about, and which stuff to care about.

For vegans, it’s eating meat and wearing leather, because it is very clearly a dead animal and therefore morally reprehensible if you agree that we don’t technically require animal products to survive or thrive. And animals are cute and therefore easy to care about. But vegans who drive cars and wear H&M are as bad as omnivores who wear organic hemp and walk everywhere. Veganism is the easy way out because it’s easy to control what you eat.

Holy shit, it would be so hard to wear all organic, sustainable clothing and only buy organic, sustainable sheets and carpet and drapes and suitcases. Imagine doing all that, and being a perfect vegan? You’d still probably be misaligned with environmental, human, and other moral concerns. In fact, it could be argued that at a certain point, the moral choice is suicide.

Unless you’re a total nihilist who thinks there’s not much point to it all anyway, so each choice is as moral as the next. So have fun! Wear $7 shirts, eat your steak, drive a Hummer, cheat on your spouse!

So I guess we do what we can. And yesterday I bought into fast fashion because I don’t want to pay $39 for a fucking T-shirt.

At least I don’t eat meat?

Oh my god I am so sad right now, why did I go down this rabbit hole?

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