Eat, sleep, and visit the mall ... for tomorrow we die


So, we have ‘Eros’ and ‘Thanatos’ as human drives in Freud. Now what should we call the most insufferably banal and frankly depressing of newly discovered human drives?

Shops must be really humming in Iraq, then. Or was I supposed to forget that their horror continues unabated?

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I use materialism to cope with my fear of not having things.



Why do they undermine interesting data with meaningless speculation?

Identifying a “correlation between fear of death and impulsive shopping” is valuable.
Concluding that this behavior is “a coping mechanism to deal with death anxiety” is lazy psychobabble in my opinion.

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Alternate theory: Much of our anxiety in life comes from making sure our limited monetary supply is meted properly to ensure comfortable long-term survival. Being constantly bombarded with advertising that leads us to believe that unlimited buying power a-la the lottery winner is the truest form of nirvana. When the x-axis become radically shortened beyond our control, it make the y-axis of expendable income shoot straight up. We are then free to dip our toe in unfettered spending, which we believe will finally open the faux-pearly gates of consumption heaven.


candidate for BAH?

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I never have the impulse to shop in any mall. Does this mean I’m not afraid to die?


My anecdotal agreement is remembering the day my father passed away seven-odd years ago. After leaving his hospital room I found myself somehow soothed by walking around a Fry’s Electronics store while calling relatives and his friends to let them know he passed. I didn’t buy anything but it was a mind-altering hour or so, browsing a temple of retail.

And here I thought I was just being weird.

So if I am afflicted with this ‘death anxiety’, but am too skint to go shopping, what should I do? Drink more cheap alcohol or something? I mean, having long ago worked out that there are such things as inevitables, of which death is obviously one, my motivation is a) keep my will up to date, b) be nice to the people who will rummage through my stuff when I assume room temperature, c) choose a really good friend as my executor, and d) importantly, make sure they know who not to give stuff to!

[Briefly lowering my clipboard and peering over my reading glasses]

Well, ‘I’, do you feel like a denialist? Or more like a nihilist?

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This was a major theme in Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.

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I’m with you. Few places stress me out as much as the mall, I’d sure hate to make that one of my last experiences in life.

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I can relate to that - but it sounds like maybe any such distracted atmosphere could have helped you through that moment (and the task of the phone calls to be made). A more superficial example of what might be a similar thing could be how sometimes going to a public place with my laptop suddenly enables me to get some kind of work with a potentially stressful deadline done. Anyway, maybe not so weird at all. (replying to Penforhire)

It sure sounds plausible. Shopping malls were biggest during the Cold War’s years of nuclear brinksmanship, when people literally believed the world had a not-insignificant chance of ending at any given day.

The mall isn’t the key aspect, of course. Maybe some subconscious aspect of shopping is at play here. Advertising has long known that fear motivates buying behavior- but maybe it’s not even a specific fear. Maybe it is more broad- since all fear can be reduced to the fear of death, eventually.

I believe this, and from recent experience. Just this week, a friend was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I have spent WAY more than average in the three days since- on clothes and books for myself mostly. And not because I need (or have budgeted for) these things.

When confronted by anxiety about death most people remember they need new underwear. This seems quite normal and understandable.

In DeLillo’s White Noise too.

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