Shopping malls, even though they try to look as glitzy and as welcoming as possible, can be harsh places. The very concept of the mega-mall plays on human feelings of inadequacy and competitiveness. To make us buy, it must make us feel that we lack something, or that everyone else has something we do not yet own. We must consume to surpass others or, at the very least, to keep up. We purchase to fit in. How can this constant undercurrent of competitiveness, of us always trying to be “cool,” bring us true joy?
The saddest thing is that the modern mall, basically an American import, has made us put aside a whole array of beautiful, worthwhile —and yes, cheaper—activities, many of them intrinsic to our own cultures or region. We have no one to blame but ourselves. Instead of shopping, we could be cooking, visiting a nearby waterfall, beach or temple, reading a novel, writing poetry, starting a blog, making music, taking a long walk, playing a game, learning a dance or—here’s a radical idea—visiting a friend.
Every time there’s a spare piece of land, all we can think of building on it is yet another mall. This way,
we show not only our affluent status but also demonstrate our poverty in terms of imagination, adventure and passion. Perhaps instead, we should be building libraries, or theatres, art galleries, museums, sports halls, public swimming pools, parks, animal sanctuaries—the list is endless.
We might even consider leaving that plot of land alone, to flourish as it will.
And this is something that the mall may have caused us to forget; In order to be happy, we must create as well as consume.
Is the abundance of malls a sign of our new wealth or does it show a poverty of imagination? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
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