Are We As Consumers Doing All The Work?

Sometimes I think the machine just messes with you. #technologyfail #shutupandringmygroceries

A post shared by Tina Miller (@encompassingchaos) on

We all know what production is, and we know what consumption is. You can refer to this older post about that here. There are those who are producers and those who are consumers, but have you ever heard of prosumption?

Many, many years ago (like the 1970’s) the word prosumption was coined to describe a change in the way that production of goods would be produced. It was reasoned that the economic landscape would grow to benefit consumers to such a degree that they would have much say in how and what was being produced. This is for the most part how some things turned out. One can have a specific saying or image produced onto t-shirts, mugs, and clocks with the click of a button. More and more consumers are producing their own media and customizing businesses across the internet to meet their own needs. Blogs being one of the biggest arenas for prosumption. We are the creators and consumers of the products or media being produced. YouTube is another great example of prosumption.
Actual prosumption, though, through mass customization of mega business for the consumer has not been met with their initial assumptions.

I would like to address some disconcerting fads that large corporations have begun to incorporate into their profit systems.

I hadn’t heard of prosumption until the other day. I came across this scientific article because of a fellow blogger. I am now more aware and would like others to be a bit more aware as well. We can not make fully informed decisions in our society if we are not fully aware of the mechanisms at work.

Most likely you have prosumed and you didn’t even know it. You know those oh so convenient check out lines where you get to ring up and bag your own groceries? Yep, you were not only consuming the goods from the store, you were part of the production process when you did the work of a cashier and bagger. Prosumerism is also present when you use your internet connection and your computer to shop around on the internet. You check yourself out and your goods arrive at your doorstep.

These things seem like great innovations. They are convenient and help you get through your day with less hassle, but in the long run are they really helping out our society as a whole?

When you choose to use the self checkout, are you getting a discount for doing the extra work? Not likely, you are paying the same prices as those using the cashier’s line. You can argue that is was quicker, but did the store under staff their cashiers on purpose? Did they artificially create longer lines? Were you essentially forced to use the self check-out? These are the things that we need to be aware of in our technologically advanced capitalistic society.

When we are not aware of what is going on, that is when we are open for exploitation.

All of big business is set up to make a profit. They are going to use everything they can to make more profit. If this means using less cashiers and more self-checkouts then that is what they are going to do. At first it seems great. We are moving forward as a society with the use of these machines, but what happens to that cashier who can’t make her house payment because her hours have been cut?

Think about all of the bookstores that went out of business since the advent of Amazon?

It seems our technology in the wrong hands (or wrong economic model) is a double edged sword.

I like innovation. I like the new things that we have created as a society, but I do not like the golem corporations that keep sucking up all the money and funneling it to the top. It definitely is a vortex.

I do not mind sometimes ringing up my own groceries and bagging them. I do however mind having my labor exploited for the bottom line.

Be ever vigilant my friends and we as the prosumer can begin to turn the tables.

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