Cooking up some social change

Cooking up social changeThe Sunday Telegraph ran an article last month on a surprising phenomenon: cookbooks are selling better than ever despite the financial crisis. The journalist, Charles Miranda, points out the wartime themes chosen by notable celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Delia Smith, and offers it as evidence that the public (in the UK at least) are adopting a recession mindset. However, I think that the global downturn has resulted in more than just people rediscovering the joys of cooking; the attractiveness of a lifestyle financed through credit* has lost its glossy appeal.

I find this heartening, because it’ll now be easier keeping up with the Joneses. Not that I’ve ever been particularly envious of others’ houses, cars, share portfolios or whatever, but there are times when I just know I’m being Compared; for example: “You’re still in the same job? You know you could get more if you look elsewhere/had more ambition/changed roles once in a while,” or “You really should invest in shares/property/super to get ahead.”

Despite the many attempts in the past, I just can’t muster up enough enthusiasm or motivation to climb to the top of the heap. The pyramid view of the world never rang true for me, and now with this credit crunch, the pointy end is starting to collapse: climbing the social ladder by using credit to live beyond your means is banished, and people are learning to save instead of spend (or cooking at home instead of eating out). Now we have a much more level playing field, and I really hope that these changes in behaviour will drive a stake through the heart of our current capitalistic, consumeristic, materialistic society… said he who in the intervening hours since writing that last sentence, spent $429 on a brand new Dyson vacuum cleaner. Mwahaha!

I strongly believe that this economic rationalisation, along with the environmental issues currently being played out on the world stage, will lead to a new social order, which for now I’ll simply describe as “Efficiency” and leave the elaboration for a later post. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a while, and I’m looking forward to finally spending some time trying to articulate it.


* I have a slight racist tendency in my belief that the love of credit is a malady that mainly affects Western society, but a few friends have said that South Korea is also in a state of near-collapse due to a high level of consumer debt.