In Zone One, Whitehead (repeatedly) provides social commentary on the subject of consumerism prevalent in New York, something that can now also be extrapolated for many other cities on the world map. In the book, he employed two kinds of zombies – the stragglers and the skels – to make tangible the effects of consumerism. Arguably, the stragglers embody passive acts of consumerism with their repetitive brain-dead movements. The skels, meanwhile, embody the fierce and contagious nature of the disease by their penchant for biting the unaffected.
All in all, the mental consequences of consumerism seems to be materialized in the aforementioned trails and and physically distorted bodies of the skels and the stragglers. However I came across an example where consumerism has led to a more literal zombification. The Inuits of Alaska, Canada and Greenland have enjoyed perfect set of teeth with their diet of fish and sea mammals, land mammals and birds. However, when processed food was introduced to the community, many Inuits started experiencing tooth decay for the very first time.
In the various groups in the lower Kuskokwim seventy-two individuals who were living exclusively on native foods had in their 2,138 teeth only two teeth or 0.09 per cent that had ever been attacked by tooth decay. In this district eighty-one individuals were studied who had been living in part or in considerable part on modern foods, and of their 2, 254 teeth 394 or 13 per cent had been attacked by dental caries.
A full article about it can be reached here.
This literal manifestation of zombification through consumerism, doesn’t end there. Their bodies also became subject to the health concerns – of obesity and diabetes – that are generally specific to the consumer society.
When further discussing zombification as an appropriate (or for the rebels, inappropriate) metaphor for consumerism, we can extend our vision to the health effects experienced by humans as part of being a consumerism-ridden society.