Rethinking Lifestyle

Affluenza: Where is the Vaccine?

  • Eric Rempel, Blog Coordinator
  • Advocate, South Eastman Transition Initiative

Af•flu•en•za: 1) The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling resulting from trying to buy all the latest stuff and keep up with the Joneses. 2) An unsustainable addiction to consumption and economic growth without regard for the consequences to our families, communities or the environment.

In 2001 the book Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic by de Graaf, Wann and Naylor appeared. They view consumerism (with its accompanying overwork and dissatisfaction) as a deliberately spread disease, the book consists of three parts – symptoms, origins, and treatment. Affluenza is described as “a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more”.

In 2014 the movie “Affluenza” appeared. In 2013 the defense attorny in a Texas court argued that a teenager who had killed four people while driving under the influence needed rehabilitation rather than prison because he suffered from affluenza.

In the midst of our preoccupation with COVID 19 epidemic, we might do well to consider how we are doing as this other epidemic continues to envelope us.

Complete this simple test to find out. (Diagnose yourself using the key below.)

  1. I’m willing to pay more for a t-shirt if it has a cool corporate logo on it. (Y/N)
  2. I believe that if I buy the cocktail dress, the party will come. (Y/N)
  3. I have a substantial shoe collection. (Y/N)
  4. When I’m cold, I take my clothes off and turn up the heat. (Y/N)
  5. I’m willing to work 40 years at a job I hate so I can buy lots of stuff. (Y/N)
  6. When I’m feeling blue, I like to go shopping and treat myself. (Y/N)
  7. I want a sports utility vehicle, although I rarely drive in conditions that warrant one. (Y/N)
  8. I usually make just the minimum payment on my credit cards. (Y/N)
  9. I believe that whoever dies with the most toys wins. (Y/N)
  10. Most of the things my friends/family and I enjoy doing together are free. (Y/N)
  11. I don’t measure my self-worth (or that of others) by what I or they own. (Y/N)
  12. I know how to pinch a dollar until it screams. (Y/N)
  13. I worry about the effects of advertising on children. (Y/N)
  14. To get to work, I carpool, ride my bike or walk. (Y/N)
  15. I’d rather be shopping right now. (Y/N)

For questions 1-9 and 15, give yourself 2 points for YES and 1 point for NO.

For questions 10-14, give yourself 0 points for YES and 2 points for NO

10-15 points: No dangerous signs of Affluenza at this time. Nevertheless you may be an asymptomatic carrier.

16-22 points: Warning – You have mild Affluenza. Deal with the symptoms before they become uncontrollable.

23-30 points: Cut up your credit cards and call a doctor!