Being a young adult is pressure enough. Everything you say or do can be broadcast worldwide in less than five seconds, increasing the intensity of social pressures. The rapid development of technology increases competitiveness to remain relevant and popular. The number of “likes” on a photo serves as a measure of how well-liked its subject is by the general public; if you have more of them, you must be more popular than Sally, who only has a few (again, NOT TRUE). However, as you can see, these numbers surround us and exert pressure on us. It’s become an absolute life-or-death scenario, and that’s never good. Today’s youth are obsessed with showing their achievements to their peers and proving that they have more and are better than everyone else. For today’s adolescents, life is one endless competition for falsehoods propagated by today’s consumer culture.
I no longer agree to participate in these consumerism falsehoods.
A Consumer Society Is Exactly What?
It is hardly the first time you’ve heard “consumer society,” but I’m sure you get the point. It means that consumer spending is the primary engine of economic growth in the Western World and is exported to many other countries. Our digital consumer society has gotten even more insane with buying it on credit and getting it in the hour or the next day. Our media propagate the myth to impressionable adolescents that buying more equals popularity. But what exactly does that imply?
The foundation of consumer culture is the belief that people will always need to purchase goods and services. Things like food, clothing, gas for our vehicles, shelter, bedding, and so on are necessities for everyone, but to what extent do we need to consume more than we need? The root cause of a consumer society is the expectation that its members will never slow down their level of consumption; instead, they will consume for the rest of their lives as though they were competing in a hot dog-eating contest. And as long as you keep chowing down on hot dogs, they don’t care how often you puke.
The following are four falsehoods we must immediately reject:
In today’s consumer culture, you’re constantly told that more is better.
Remember that as long as you are a part of a consumer-driven culture, you have no choice but to keep buying things. Nowadays, no matter how much money or stuff you have, there will always be something better on the market. It’s the proverbial hamster wheel, and you will never reach the end.
Before you go out and buy the next hip product, try to weigh both the pros and the cons before you decide to make that purchase. Or, as I do, put off that purchase for 30 days, return to it, and ask yourself if I still need to buy that item. Then determine if it is just a whim perpetuated by some external desire or an actual need. It’s about finding balance. Buy the products that you know your family will use. It’s about the peace of mind you get from not worrying yourself sick about your closet, home, and storage units at capacity because you don’t know what to do with yesterday’s purchases.
Develop a sense of fulfillment in your life to prevent succumbing to materialism. It’s not about collecting stuff to be seen but using the products intelligently, which brings you joy and knowledge that you are helping the planet by eliminating things you do not need or use.
You’ll stop shopping as much as possible once you realize you have all you need. You won’t have to worry about your bank account getting smaller or your home getting more crowded, and in the end, you’ll be satisfied with those outcomes.
Your Value as a Person Depends on Material Possessions
This other deception of consumer culture is much more pervasive. We have been conditioned from a young age onward by consumer culture to believe that our prosperity and popularity are contingent upon material possessions. That’s how much you’ll be valued as a person.
The rationale goes something like this; you are valuable and important if you drive a new car, wear designer labels, and live in a spacious home. But you must be seriously wrong if you, like me, drive an old car, wear regular clothes, shop at a thrift store, and work a “menial” job.
As a result, many people incur massive debt, remain in jobs they despise, and acquire a surplus of material possessions they rarely use. And it’s not even for the sake of social admiration. They’ve internalized the message that their self-worth is directly proportional to their material possessions.
That, however, is not the case. You are precious, like a “diamond in the rough.” In my own right, I am priceless. We are of greater worth not by what we own but by how we treat others and what we do for those around us. No material possession can replace the value of human life.
Keeping up with the Joneses is a requirement for social acceptance.
Consumerism is at its best when rivalry is intense. Consumer society has you where they want you if you feel pressured to keep up with the Joneses by purchasing the latest and greatest gadgets and automobiles.
Because of this, American consumerism has been so successful for the simple reason that everyone is attempting to maintain appearances. Exhausting!
If you work hard enough, you will succeed in America, but we have transformed success into showy material possessions. That’s code for saying that keeping up with the Joneses requires amassing a mountain of debt.
Have you felt the pressure to “keep up with the Joneses?” Will your happiness increase by engaging in competitive consumerism? Everyone seems to keep quiet about the Joneses’ success, so when they inevitably go bankrupt or split up, what do you think people will say? Nonetheless, it is something that we have all witnessed.
Buying stuff to show off will not bring you happiness or the life you truly desire. It’s another fib used to encourage you to continue spending.
And lastly, the bigger, the better.
Let’s be honest. As a culture, we believe acquiring more material goods and expensive homes is necessary to ensure economic growth. People will continually need to upgrade their possessions if they feel they constantly outgrow them.
When your home becomes too cluttered, it’s time to upgrade to a larger dwelling; when your neighbor acquires a shiny new pickup, it’s time to upgrade your vehicle; and when you’re craving a cheeseburger, why not make it monstrous?
Is larger always preferable, in any case? No.
It’s responsible for our bloated bellies, chaotic homes, depleted bank accounts, and overflowing trash cans. The greater our desires, the higher our levels of stress, and the less time we have to spend with those we care about.
You can live by the falsehood of our consumption society that more is always better, or you can choose to de-clutter your life and put your energy where it counts. By rejecting materialism in favor of simplicity, you can live a life with less anxiety and more fulfillment. That’s because it’s possible for there to be too much of a good thing.
Do You Plan to Believe the Fabrications of Our Consumer Culture?
It’s up to all of us to choose a path forward now. Are you willing to believe the falsehoods of our consumerist culture, which lead to a highway of useless goods and depression of self-worth that serve only to fill your home with clutter and never satisfy?
Will you join the growing number of people choosing to shop more slowly and with greater awareness to avoid the adverse impacts of excessive consumerism? Will you take steps to reduce the complexity of your life?
We would love to hear from you.