Many people hold the view that the more that you have, the better your lifestyle, and the happier you’ll be. The search of “the good life” includes the pursuit of a faster car, a bigger house, and the latest technological gadget in an effort to reach the most comfortable lifestyle one can possibly attain. People soon get caught up in this rat race, always needing to earn more to get more. While trying to maintain this materialistic, consumerist lifestyle, they become stressed out, burned out, and just plain unhappy. When material wealth becomes the measurement of one’s success, consumerism has become a trap where a person cannot make real choices any longer.
This is the powerful influence of consumerism. Consumerism is a cultural phenomenon that is intricately woven into our society. The economical wealth of a country is often measured by its consumer economy. The theory is that a country that consumes goods and services in large quantities will be better off economically. Ideally, as more goods are produced, so are more jobs, wealth, and comforts for a better way of living.
However, it has become a system where consumer demand for goods is influenced and manipulated to increase sales. Advertising and promotion of new technologies and luxury items are so strong we are often driven by want over need. It can create false desires and sometimes-unattainable aspirations.
A Product’s Lifecycle
“They don’t build them like they used to!” This is something you hear pretty often these days. Many products are built to last for a limited period of time. This built-in obsolescence is a way to increase sales. When the option to have an item repaired is so high, it becomes easier to replace it with a new one. This creates the new problem of dealing with all the waste that is generated.
More, Newer, Better
Who doesn’t want the latest coolest technology? For many, a functioning smartphone is not enough. If a new iPhone is released they feel compelled to buy it. Screens and monitors are getting bigger and better all the time. Household appliances are getting shinier, slicker in design and more colorful, but not necessarily more efficient.
Buying is Easy
We are told that we are headed into a cashless society. This may seem smart and convenient. But keep in mind; credit cards make it easier for us to spend money that we don’t have. This leads to a larger debt load, further driving the stress and the need to earn more to keep up. While debit cards seem like a better alternative, it gives us access to more money than we carry.
If we continue down this consumerism path, we need to become aware of its impact on our lives, our environment, and the future of our planet. Globally, this lifestyle is unsustainable and destructive to the environment in the long run. Natural resources are being depleted and our natural habitat is being constantly destroyed to create more goods and buildings. Global warming and industrial pollution will eventually lead to more health problems.
While people are running around trying to keep up with their needs and wants, they fail to strive for the things they really need for happiness: relationships, spirituality, and personal development, time for children and for reflection.
What You Can do About It
We need to care less about materialism and live more, by refocusing on the things that really matter and bring true joy and happiness.