2011, Society  -   76 Comments
Ratings: 8.49/10 from 137 users.

Possibly the most unthinkable story of the last million years is the rise of the modern human culture. The cities we populate and the lives that we lead.

It is the environment that our children will inherit. But after a century of exponential growth in population and consumerism people are questioning the nature of modern life.

We're beginning to doubt our motivations and we're predicting environmental destruction. In understanding human nature our current concerns look smaller, more transient, with, potentially, a solution.

We've all got this weird mental illness called consumerism. We've all kind of gone collectively psychotic. Chasing status, in public, with people who don't really care and neglecting your own lovers and friends and neighbours and kids.

The consumption of material items as a means to acquire status is as much of a trap as it is a set of freedoms. The pervasive nature of it has perhaps crossed the threshold of us being able to cope with it and process the information. The high street is actually a stressful, anxious place. We're getting very little from it, but working incredibly hard to try and figure it all out.

We have the delusion that we really have deep insight into ourselves already. We're very sophisticated now in the early 21st century, but we're going to seem incredibly naïve in another hundred years.

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Miss K
8 years ago

Most of what this film highlights (yes) IS pretty dark & depressing. However, the fact that the end Summary brought ideas of solution & a brighter future made it wonderful & actually inspiring. I dig movies, books, literature that forces you to take a step back & not only look at the bigger picture, but also the truth!! IMO, people (I think) are already starting to do that... at least more than ever before, after living through this latest economic crisis. And also, I believe people DO see that our world & entire society is in an unpresidented state now, today. So much of everything in this film rang true to me. I recommend for sure!

morrisseyowesmemoney .
8 years ago

It bothers me when people make this accusation that humanity is a cancer, that we are somehow the singular cause for the eventual destruction of the earth. They fail to take into account that the earth, solar system, and the galaxy are not going to be around forever. Each are going to come to an end. Taking into account the bigger picture, does it really matter when? You can try to preserve whatever you want, but you are only delaying the inevitable. Might as well take advantage of what you have while you have it.

Juci Shockwave
8 years ago

This documentary oddly reminds me of an episode from Star Trek in which Captain Picard explained to the cryonic people from the 20th Century that materialism and consumerism doesn't matter in the 24th Century. That the accumulation of wealth doesn't exist. The only thing that matters is improving ones knowledge and persona. To be a better being. Hopefully we as a species will be like Star Trek in the future and not like Terminator or worse 1984. :/ Anyways great documentary.

David Faubion
9 years ago

Two or three main themes stand out in this doc, for me. First, we can be happier with less stuff, a fact that is well known studied and measured. (Fewer words are oft more intelligible than more words.)
Second, we have become comfortably numb to our destruction, such as species, ecosystems and whole nations; our destruction is an over-industry that surrounds us even encroaches upon us daily. The industry of destruction, which I contend, the 99% of us have little direct complicity in; however, as bystanders, as taxpayers, we the 99% are letting the war industry, for example, chew up 50% of our tax dollar (in the USA) most of our resources, our solvency and our security.
The third theme that is, for me at least, implicit in this doc is that destruction, war and the like, which includes the careless wars of negligence and ignorance by industry on the environment, on workers, on children, on women, the poor and all the wars of cultural carelessness that are waged for profit--makes us breed and consume like there is no tomorrow. Biologists found that the biological directive for a species that feels endangered is to reproduce, which asexually for humans is usually consumption. Most of the consumption is in the hands of 1 to 10% of the world’s population. That is an unstable way to set a table for seven billion guests. A fourth theme that makes much good sense is the divide twixt being and having: the more you have the less you are. That is why a Gandhi, a Jesus, a Mother Theresa will outlast all the flash-in-the-pan billionaires of our sad demise.
Wealth creates poverty. Stamp out the pestilence of billionaires; splat their purulent deep pocket of oozing cash out over the vast
swathes of endemic poverty. Lift these people up out of the misery, into the light of a sustainable population. Start there, and then see if that eases the boil of mass-infected multimillionaires.

Nicholas Hewlett
9 years ago

Sounds daft, i was homeiess this year. It was yhe people i met who were also ai a low point in their lives , i remember with more affection than most of the people i have met in 52 years, We all had virtually nothing except EACHOTHER , big difference to the lives most people live , look inside yourself, you can find a new and better world, if you are lucky. Not alot of people get the chance , i was lucky.

9 years ago

We will all back to poverty in no time fear not and i got their first "I got dibs" QED

10 years ago

A refreshingly apolitical examination of how we got into this mess.

Consumerism, which will kill the planet if not brought under control, is not the product of some capitalist conspiracy, but rather a malignant outgrowth of our inner primate's need to dominate.

We westerners who have been through the looking glass and come out the other side can change our ways, but what of the developing world, who are only getting their first taste? Will they give up what they never had on our advice that having is less important than being?

I fear not. I fear the worst. Not that I'll be here to see it, though by rights I should be. Me and all the other boomers who have sacrificed our souls on the altar of self gratification.

10 years ago

Something to keep in mind when debating with those with old-fashioned mindsets: every generational push is going to be opposed and misunderstood by many of those who thrived on the older ideals in the generations prior to it. That is not to condemn them, it is to understand what it must be like to have grown up in one era, then to have everything you love and value threatened and ripped from under your feet by young, "inexperienced," "uneducated" people who are determining the future of the world. To date, I have never convinced anyone much older than myself of anything progressive that conflicts with their viewpoints. I think rather than engaging in pointless, hurtful, insulting debates, accept their place and focus on those who would like to move forward. That is how shifts happen; "Out with the old, in with the new."

Be peaceful in your viewpoints and try to respect those that don't agree. You can more easily reach someone by being respectful than by being hurtful.

10 years ago

Fabulous, absolutely so. I feel the urgency of ecological threat. I also feel the urgency of the inexorable goal of human enslavement and elitist control, (though they will have to clean off a large number of the population in some regions in order to maintain their control), but I suspect that the earths needs will finally trump dictatorships and rulers (already spreading). That consumerism and purist un limited growth for growth sakes capitalism is entering it's evolutionary end is a hopeful discourse. I love the way the dots are connected in this doc...perhaps if we learn to stay in love with the earth and things we need to live in reasonable comfort, we might also find, and love, ourselves enough to become interesting enough for other's too to love. Ha! That ought to get some attention! The last half of the 20th and first half of the 21st centuries may well be known as the Age of Distractions, as well as Extinctions...a time of transition and waste that human beings had to get through in order to determine a more heart and mind healthy way to live...hmmm...? Love this!

10 years ago

Oh the consumerism! We are struggling to keep our heads above water. We are turning into a cancer. We are getting all these mental illnesses due to consumerism!
Consumerism is many times a temporal cure to depression, anxiety, etc. As always, correlation does not imply causation.
This video has too much fear mongering. That will cure your anxiety.

10 years ago

This is so important, the mindless consumer is being consumed by the stuff it wishes so hard to have,,, but the machine goes deeper,,, the products are made defective , to be thrown away by the manufacturer ,its a flaw the creates profit, and keeps us in the deadly circle,,,, this was a wonder doc,, the whole matrix of this mindset is a trap , and now the whole world is engulfed

Pjotr Theebe
10 years ago

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” Great docu!

Martin Palmgren
10 years ago

I have yet to see the film, but these comments are fantastic. They often tell more about the real situation than any film could do. I have put down time and effort to understand the severity of the environmental problems we are experiencing and facing. It has definitely made my knowledge deeper but also put me in
a depressive state for long periods of time.
Janeen, you are a true soulmate. People with your profoud understanding are rare but a great hope for the future of mankind. It is scary how disinformed the general public is about the state of our ecological system. Everybody knows we have environmental problems, but very few seem aware of the actual time horizon and magnitude. We are talking decades now and much is already
ongoing since long.
A few months ago I held a presentation about this matter related to Dennis Meadows “limits to growth” and the following updates. It was a very quiet and bothered audience that left the lecture. It is not easy to present depressing facts and not being able to provide a solution. But I think the solution lies in the awareness of the masses because it is here the changes will take place. Do not expect politicians to come with any solutions. It will just never happen. What we need is a shift in our values and habits. And we need to stop confusing our needs with desires.
Innovation and new technology is where many people put their hope to overcome these matters and guide us into the future. But as much as we already might have all the technology we need to solve the problems, our social institutions and structures ( money, law, politics, religion) leave no room for utilizing this solution. Technology has to be free and accessible for everyone. And even if we were able to provide this technology for free globally, will there be enough natural resources and energy to build and transport it? Tough questions, but they need to be discussed.

So what is the real scope? What do we

We know that we in an ever increasing rate are pumping out greenhouse gases. Even if we stop today we have already filled up the athmosphere to assure rising temperatures for at least 100-150 years. That will bring us way past kyotos 2 degrees Celsius. We know that with rising temperature comes more ice melting. The polar caps holds up to 7 meter rising water levels, the Greenland ice holds another 7 meter. Major part of arable land will vanish while global population keeps growing to possibly 9 or 10 billion people.
We know that we are in the midst of a
great mass extinction period, were a major part of biological life forms are gone or threatened to extinction.
We know that major part of our woodlands are gone and with every tree we cut down, we further worsen the effect of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. This also undermines natures possibility of ever recovering if we pass the threshold of the CO2 system.
We know that we are beyond peak oil. The exponential growth in demand will effectively finish up this resource within the nex 20 to 30 years. That will obviously cut emissions drastically, but as stated above it might be a little to late. Raising the price of oil will only have a very small impact of prolonging our use of oil, but we will surely see both sky-rocketing prices as well as rationing before it is finally over.

I don't know about you. But I certainly don't need more reasons to hit emergency stop and seriously start talking about what changes needs to be done.

10 years ago

I agree industry needs to be more sustainable, and our population growth needs to become stable, but I do not agree that we have to do all that by sacrificing our way of life. Current technology allows us to do this. This video is correct, but does not realize technology advances in the pipeline.

Janeen Clark
10 years ago

it is totally okay, we can continue on and drive ourselves to the point of extinction, maybe the next version of man will get it right in a few billion years. however i think most people will wake up to this in a few years when almost everyone has lost their jobs homes cars have to way to feed and take care of their family then they just might think, wait a minute here i been lied to !

don hindle
10 years ago

It's very hard to live a satisfied life when billions are spent to convince us that we can't possibly be happy without a and b and c. But look at that little boy at the end of the film. He's in an environment that loves him, He doesn't even own his diapers. Have you ever seen anyone happier or who expresses his joy better?

10 years ago

Please don't be fooled by these environmental nuts. I have been driving full sized heavy luxury cars with large engines for many many years and will continue for a long time. Electric cars are to costly, and funny looking. New cars' dollar per pound not worth your money. Disposable automobiles in just about everyway. These people who are mixed up in the way they think, would have you drink and shower with recycled water from the toilet.. They would have you live like a caveman. If someone wants to live like that fine but don't expect me to jump on that bandwagon. This will make certain kind of people upset(and do not care) but here it goes, I love beef and pork, also fish, I do not recycle anything,Carbon footprint I am sure is very high, used motor oil , I pour in the city sewar sytem(goes to treatment plant). And as a consumer I will buy a used Oldsmobile 98 or some other American car with a strong big block. Old technology is good technology because it simple and reliably works. Its just that simple. I see the kind of people who would agree and support the radical thinking this documentary is trying to convey. They tend to be 20 -30 something types who are unkept,ungroomed anarchist seattle types', with ugly taste in music and rude hooligans not to be taken seriously at all.

10 years ago

My first car was a 1970 Cadillac with 7.7 liter engine. My second was a 1984 Lincoln town car with a 5.0 liter plant. Peppy but not effortlessly powerful, nice quiet ride though very soft gentle ride. Third and current car is a 1978 5200 +pound Caddy eldo with a 7.0 power plant. What these cars have in common that I so much relish in is size, weight(big car ride), and engine capacity mated with a heavy car . That's why I don't buy new. Reason : New autos are too small , immature looking with no elegance. or very little. I am know ready to scope the market for a full-to midsize 1968 to 1975 auto , maybe Imperial, or Oldsmobile 98 , still up in the air. In California a 1975 car or older is exempt from emission testing. Ok point is many people do not and will not drive around in a yippy skippy electric run about to appease the so called "green movement". Your gas, utility bills will go up due to these type of people who are sadly all mixed up. So my friendly advise is not to take these enviro nuts seriously. They would rather shower in recycled toilet water with no soap. All for the sake of the planet,which is doing just fine.

Jacek Walker
10 years ago

Maybe it is the right path to go on consuming all that junk till the point of one day vomiting it all up. There're limits to everything, they say.
But it saddens me and makes me worried that this whole process takes so long. We, as humanity, may not have so much time left...everything around us is falling apart.

10 years ago

Great doc. Makes me really value Buddhist insights into dissatisfaction as the motivator of one's life and how Madison Avenue exploits that.

10 years ago

There seem to be two ways to avoid the predicted environmental destruction. We can press ahead with a consumerist technocratic society, with the hope that technology will come to our rescue. Or we can return to a sustainable hand-to-mouth lifestyle, with human population under 100 million. I have yet to see a viable option in-between.

10 years ago

Am I the only anti-collectivist on this page? Starting the doc now.

Update: 10 minutes into it, I had to turn it off. I can't believe people actually think this way. The world is pretty great just how things are. Though yes, it is a bit overpopulated and wealth is a little imbalanced. But generally, the world is pretty great and today's problems will eventually be solved - fueled by capitalism and greed.

Janeen Clark
10 years ago

imagine a open source society where everything was similar to a public library and humanity adopted a value system of caring about humanity and environment as a direct replacement to profit. we could take a hard look at the best and worst of previous paradigms and while constructing society 2.0 , make damn sure there are no built in elements that allow for any type corruption, next take a que from the workings of internet nodes and make sure information is connected to and from communities, construct skyscraper hydroponic vegetable farms and vegetarian fish for a self contained unit providing one every 25 blocks to provide food and distribution centers instead of stores, we could examine the systems around us to detect any obsolete elements and correct them with the best that we know of today. we could dismantle copyright and intellectual properties in order to have hundreds of the best minds work on a problem or solution that can be improved at any time by anyone that has the ability to show why their blueprint is better. we could teach our children that in society 2.0 even though things have no price tag we only take what we really need at a market or distribution center in order to be efficient and cut waste we could create things to last instead of creating waste all around us, and we could create a civilization that IS free by the mechanisms in which it is built instead of taking about freedom in an abstract way like Pepsi or Coke paper or plastic free to continue on advancing and improving the world. any individual can work in the field they love with a full education at no cost, then go out into the work and instead of competition, cooperate with hundreds or thousands of the greatest minds in that area to improve the world we have instead of destroying it. in society 2.0 humans will learn about the history of religion and that at it's core it is describing a symbolic representation of evolution or DE-evolution and that is what the symbols of good and evil represent to reality, we can make a choice , we can take Martin luther king's great understanding and expand on it for all people we can eliminate scarcity.we can eliminate laws by solving problems. SOCIETY 2.0 coming to a planet near you.

10 years ago

A thought provoking doco! Although without an obvious solution, it does suggest a conclusion; To the peril of our existence, we can remain as slaves to the systems we choose to follow. That is, gluttonous consumers on a finite treadmill, ignorant parasites of Mother Earth.
In my conclusion, we must let go of our addiction to capitalism, choosing instead to be responsible human beings with mindful intent of the 'cause & effect' in all that we do.

10 years ago

hmmmm, interesting doc, but no conclusion....think they are kind of hinting that we go back to living in the woods or something?. Should of been longer and looked at alternative systems in my opinion.

10 years ago

"We’ve all got this weird mental illness called consumerism..."


10 years ago

I think many people have already realized that more, bigger and 'better' things don't lead to long-term happiness (not the majority of people). I think many people also crave constant and consistently changing stimulation. For example I like to listen to music while grocery shop. I am quite happy doing it with a $50, no name MP3 player but I crave the additional stimulation that comes from more money. It gives me the ability to go on elaborate trips/vacations or buy things that let me do new activities, rock climbing, kayaking, camera/photography, etc. I feel the need to be constantly stimulated with new experiences. Money enables my addiction to it. I wish the doc would have examined this a little further as it the case for many of my urban friends.

Klaus-bud Oracle-kaczor
10 years ago

This is an awesome slice of introspection. Thanks. It is both brutally honest and does shed a ray of hope

Klaus-bud Oracle-kaczor
10 years ago

"If you sexualize young teens you can get more of their money their parents money." This business practice with very few restrictions is virtually changing humanity in a degenerating way. This type of addiction for the purpose of business is rewarded to those who buy our leadership to the detriment of the entire species with all the collateral damage of turning our species into a cancer on the planet. And these leaders turn is into police state victims with their drug laws as another form of control. They keep us on pharmaceuticals slaves to their system and shoot us down in the streets.

10 years ago

No it was not a joke. I am a theistic evolutionist. I am not a Christian or religious, and am agnostic on the identity of God/s. I tend to learn towards pantheism/panentheism though. I reject the idea of a personal, anthropomorphic deity.

But I am a proud consumerist and call B dot S dot on this doc.

I am in the process at the moment of compiling an actual list of points about theistic evolution and consumerism once I have completed it, I will paste it here.

Look forward to seeing it. It will reset, listen to me now, your mind about science too.