Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lust for Stuff By Any Other Name…

Lust for Stuff By Any Other Name...
Isn’t Quite Lusty Enough

Stuff, spilling out of the attic and onto the floor 
Lust for Stuff is the name of a blog series I began several months ago. I covered only a few items: books, jewelry (especially gold), the appeal of free stuff and how I resisted it, and lust for stuff and the Joads from John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath.
I had an entire series planned until the day I checked my blog stats. Stats tell bloggers about traffic to their blog, how many people read their posts (never quite enough to make me happy), browsers and operating systems being used, and a blogger’s audience by country. Stats can help you fine-tune your blog and even consider advertising. Stats also tell  you what sites refer readers to your blog, for example, Facebook, Facebook mobile, Google searches, and other Web sites.

I'm embarrassed that we filled this truck with stuff and took it to the dump.
During the few weeks I wrote about lust, I checked my stats.  Okay to be honest, I check my stats every day, several times a day. Like checking e-mail and checking Facebook, it’s a compulsion—as if I needed another one. Compulsions aside, perhaps not quite aside because during the time I wrote about lust for stuff, one of the hundred times I checked the stats, I saw an unfamiliar link.  Said link had referred a few readers to one of my “Lust for Stuff” stories. “I’ll just click this link and see what it is,” I said to myself, and click I did. “Whoa! Oh, my. Oh, no. Not that kind of lust.” I closed the window and resolved to never again go near that link.
Unfortunately, the link put me off so much that I avoided writing about lust for stuff. I wanted to come up with a different name for the series, one that wasn’t quite so . . . “lusty.” I wrote my intentions on my ubiquitous to-do list, but other intentions delayed my trip to the pages of my thesaurus until a few days ago. My Bartlett’s Roget’s Thesaurus at 1415 pages is the perfect companion to someone with a lust for synonyms. With over 350,000 terms and phrases, my appetite likely will not be satiated during this lifetime.
I steered away from that kind of lust in my quest for another name. “Desire” was the first, best match for the kind of lust I wanted to describe. But desire, craving, yearning, longing, hankering, and other nouns didn’t have the strength I wanted. I went to the verbs, and they, too, were similar, even the same words, sans suffixes: crave, long for yearn for, pine for, die for (to die for has become a mantra for some folks’ lust for stuff). I kept going: covet, envy, jealousy, possessiveness, rivalry, competition, bitterness, greed, hunger, appeal, attraction, discontent, malcontent, want.
Not one of the synonyms came close to what I want to say. Lust for stuff, especially in our consumer-driven society, is visceral. People get a gut-level feeling that surpasses desire, craving, yearning, longing. That visceral feeling of eagerness to purchase, to have, to own, goes far beyond envy or appeal. The urge, the strength of the feeling to acquire, to buy, to own is stronger than desire. It has become the fabric of our society, the fabric of our economy, and as most of us know, that fabric is fraying.
I cannot find another word works as well as lust to describe that drive to possess stuff, material possessions, ownership of clothes, books, houses, cars, trinkets, linens, toys, food, plants, watches, jewels—the list doesn’t end, because even for someone who “has it all,” someone is busy creating yet something else for that person to buy.
Lust for stuff it is. Do you have it? Do you want it? Do you need it? Crave it? Desire it? If yes, then you have “Lust for Stuff.”

How many plants are enough?

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