By Paul Ford
A Love Letter to Consumer Society
A Love Letter to Consumer Society
I just wanted to thank all the consumers who made this weekend possible. See, I never buy anything, except for ginger ale
and crackers. I'm not cheap, just boring. But this weekend, cooped up with freelance work, I needed an air conditioner badly.
In Godless Russia, no way--I'd have to sell my children and rent out my dacha for a broken, freon-based AC. But in Carroll
Gardens, in Brooklyn, in New York City, in New York State, in the U.S.A., I walked fifteen minutes to the largest Home Depot
in the northeast states and bought both a trundle cart and a 5100 BTU Hampton Bay AC (with an ER of 9). I bungee-strapped
the AC to the cart and walked it home. The whole process took less than an hour. The AC fell off the cart twice.
If this was a country of Pauls, all stores would stock ginger ale and crackers, but there would be no Home Depot. As a practice,
comparison shopping for door frames would cease. No more wallpapering or wall-to-wall carpeting, ever. Society would stop
and there would be a quarter-billion Subway Diaries: an unpleasant scenario. I thank God we live in a nation of people who
worry about hardwood floors and moulding, who purchase a TV-VCR combo for each room in the house. I'm happy to skim off their
competitive economy without competing myself. My closet has enough shirts and I have enough money for regular haircuts, but
when I need something--like a computer or microwave--your relentless upgrading and purchasing makes my own greeds and comforts
easy to satisfy.
You whose wallets support the pyramids of soda cans, I congratulate you. My apartment is nicely chilled by your desires.
Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some
There is a Facebook group.
You will regret following me on Twitter here.
About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit
things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.
If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am
glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.
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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford
Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose.
As a hobby I write.
Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out.
Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley.
Welcome to the Company.
“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”.
Forgot to tell you about this.
“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”.
An essay for TheMorningNews.org.
People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately.
Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford.
Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford.
Nanolaw with Daughter.
Why privacy mattered.
0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford.
It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so
that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So:
Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand
below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every
Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came
unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...)
That Shaggy Feeling.
Antilunchism, by Paul Ford.
Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford.
I'll have no one to blame but future me.
Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford.
(1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and
the historical fallacy.
The Moral Superiority of the Streetcar.
(1) Long-form journalism fixes everything. (2) The moral superiority of the streetcar. (3) I like big bus and I cannot lie.