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I hate being called a "consumer"

I hate being called a "consumer"

Posted By Sunny Lockwood

Please don’t call me a consumer.

I can’t stand that word when applied to people who shop, dine out, join athletic clubs or pay for services such as dry-cleaning. Its over-use by radio and TV newscasters drives me up the wall.

When did the word "consumer" come to mean anyone who spends money on anything?

What is so difficult about using the specific name for the specific action? For example, grocery shoppers for those who buy groceries.

Instead of saying, "Consumers bought more applesauce than apples last week," why not say, "Grocery shoppers last week bought more applesauce than apples."?

How about "American drivers" for those who fill up their cars’ and trucks’ tanks with gasoline or diesel?

How about customers, clients or patients? Families, students or employees? Women, men, children? Anything, please, except consumers.

Consume is a perfectly good word. Among its meanings: to devour, destroy, devastate, decimate, engorge, incinerate, gut, and ravage with fire and sword.

It also means to waste, spend, use up and exhaust. And I’ll admit that lots of people who spend their money on products and services do, indeed, waste, use up and exhaust. But even in this context, "consumer" is a lazy way to describe people, so general and inexact as to be useless.

"Consumer" as used on the nightly news makes people sound like mindless robots, like those fat Pac-Man faces of yesteryear, devouring everything in sight.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be thought of in that way. And I certainly do not want to be such an automaton.

The word "shopper" contains within it the concept of distinguishing one product from another and making a choice based on cost, quality, color or some other desirable characteristic. The word "consumer" holds no such meanings.

A shopper is a human being on a mission.

A consumer? What’s a consumer?

Whatever it is, I do not want to be known as one of them. So please, whatever you do, do not ever call me a consumer.


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