Brasilmagic\’s Weblog

Venting to the World

The Era of Simplicity

After all the gloom and doom we have heard now for the past year, I think it’s time for Americans, and all the copycats around the world who like to follow the American culture, to reflect on some points.

I came to this country in 1997, at the height of the Clinton era (right before he crashed because of his indiscretion and bad judgment), when the internet companies were popping up everywhere and there was little unemployment.

The late 90’s and the 00’s were full of enthusiasm, even though much of this American dream was shattered when the loonie religious extremists decided to kill innocent people in a disaster movie style.

Consumerism was at its maximum. Fourteen year olds wanted designer bags and sunglasses to feel “in”. Parents indulged. Women went on shopping spree after shopping spree, and their closets were full of items they did not really need. Some women would find something they had bought and had never worn, still with the label on, inside their cramped closets. BMWs and other luxury cars dominated the urban scene in higher income metropolitan areas. Hair and nail salons were crowded. People wanted a bigger house, and MacMansions were popping up at every American suburb. Everyone just HAD to have the latest cell phone or the latest lap top, and gadget lovers (I am guilty of that too) couldn’t get enough of Apple.

Meanwhile, the American middle class forgot one basic tenant of adult responsability: to save money. People spent it all. I could not believe an article I read on the Washington Post in the late 90’s: a couple who made more than 100k a year together, 2 kids, could not make ends meet. For me, that was a sign they were living above their heads. Saving money means you are growing. Saving money means you will have protection if you are hit by illness or unemployment. Saving money means you can pursue some bigger dreams, your dream vacation, that boat or that degree. Women in particular, with the pressure to look like a Hollywood fashionista, spend a lot more than they should. Many young women have huge credit card debts and are unable to have financial security.

With the American and now worldwide economic crisis (other nations are paying for our own excesses!), we should try to change our focus as a nation. We should try to save, not only spend. We should get rid of major credit card debts and excessive spending. We need to become less materialistic. We do not need 8 pairs of jeans, we do not need 200 dollar jeans, we do not need 30 diferent styles of bags, and we do not need to change our gadget every 12 months.

I often wonder if Americans shop because there is litle else to do. Extended families do not live near each other. Cultural events are expensive. Winter months are grey and depressing. Travel is expensive. So what do you do in a boring Saturday afternoon? You go shop hopping! You go to the outlets “just in case” you find a really good deal. And you come back with 300 dollars worth of cheap chothes or clothes you don’t really need. You buy 5 tops because they were cheap.

For mothers and daughters, shopping is bonding time, since they don’t know what else they can do together. The malls become congregation spots, since the urban sprawl has given us very few places to congregate. Teens meet at the mall. They often consume once inside. And women fall prey to the “it’s so pretty, I just have to have it”, falling deeper into debt.

Barack Obama wants to restore consumer confidence. He wants Americans to have their jobs and feel safe to spend again. I say ok, go ahead, but maybe we should tone it down. Maybe we should think twice every time we buy something we want: is it really important? Essential? Can I use the public library instead? Can I blow dry my own hair? Can I go to that party with the same dress I wore last summer? Will I really use all the options in that new shiny cell phone they are trying to push on us? How about saving 500 dollars a month? How about trying to save a percentage of your paycheck and saying no to spending more than you allow yourself?

We don’t have to stop spending, we need to spend more responsibly and remember to SAVE. Americans forgot about that. They are mortgaged up to their ears. The era of rap music showing blinged golddiggers going after the guy with the Bentley is over. Maybe women will start looking for a guy who they are really attracted to, who treats them well, instead of the one with the Mercedes Benz. A new era of simplicity and less frivolous lifestyles, mirrored in our First Family, could be the answer for the 10’s-the new decade which will soon begin.


February 25, 2009 - Posted by | Economy, Society


  1. Just dropping by.Btw, you website have great content!

    The Proven Quick And Easy Method To Induce Labor Naturally In Less Than 48 Hours!

    Comment by Skyler | March 3, 2009 | Reply

  2. Oi Grace! Que legal que vc bloga tb! E pelo WordPress tb.
    Deixei uma coisinha pra vc lá no meu blog.



    Comment by bellavida | March 13, 2009 | Reply

  3. Hello Grace I really enjoy your blog. I agree with you that this period of struggle is a time where individuals can get back to basics and financial common sense. I often wondered how people could afford brand new 500K homes and their income was in the 100K per year range. Now I know why – they couldn’t. I wish good luck to those in foreclosure or having financial difficulties – this too shall pass.

    Comment by Joanne | March 23, 2009 | Reply

  4. Oi Grace. I am enjoying your blog. I lived and worked in Brazil on and off from 1987 to 2004, doing research on culture and politics. Mainly in Belém, all up and down the Amazon. But also in Rio and SP. Traveled all over the country. Belém é cidade de meu coraçao. I’ve spent up to 9 hours at a time in the Brasília airport, without ever going into town, I must say…. but one day I will. My own thoughts and words in wordpress are at, in case you’re interested. Cheers…

    Comment by john | March 31, 2009 | Reply

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