Ideas That Shape The World ACS100
21 November 2014
Living In A Consumerist Society
The ideology of consumerism and all that it entails has been a staple of academic and philosophical discussion for centuries. When looking at consumerism, we see a great deal of the fundamental desires and delusions of an individual for a sense of control, fulfilment and most importantly, our identity. Its theories and concepts about the structure and development of the individual ego stand upon concerns of meaning, desire, power, value, and objects in relation to consumer society. We are left to feel isolated from not only ourselves but in society. It is our own identity that encompasses the pursuit, compromise, placement and exchange of advertisements, and ideals for people to make meanings in their lives. It’s the total amount of one’s past experiences, unmet needs, idealistic wish fulfilling dreams, ambitions and hopes which drive the individual to find an object to fill in the emptiness and create a sense of wholeness and identity. This topic is significantly important and interesting for me because the idea of finding our true self is heavily influenced by the environment we live in. We are constantly flooded in advertisements, images, social media, and messages portrayed by large corporations to behave and look a certain way to mold into society’s expectations. However, being able to distance yourself and not letting it influence your morals, and the prevention from forming your own beliefs are all aspects that one should consider when it comes to the influential role of the consumer culture. It is also interesting to see that everyone – toddlers, adolescents, and even adults are effected by consumerism. The two major themes that corresponds to this notion of consumerism is Ideology and Media, and Imperial Collapse. I will be using three scholarly sources and a film to further discuss my thesis: Bidirectional Dynamics of Materialism and Loneliness: Not Just a Vicious Cycle, Elvis Alive?: The Ideology of American Consumerism, You Are What You Buy: Postmodern Consumerism and the Construction of Self, Citizen Kane. Using the idea of consumerism, we can connect this to the theme of Marshall McLuhan’s idea of narcissus narcosis, also known as self-hypnosis. He argues that the media becomes invisible. This is the same kind of process that we can no longer sustain our attention to the media, but give ourselves over to the medium so it can run its own course in reconstructing our consciousness, and in doing so, we lose our awareness. With this, we simply just accept what is given to us without ever questioning it. Looking at Facebook for an example, the way it has developed, the personality, motivation, manipulation and the market ideologies that lie behind it not only failed to think out the technology before we put it out, but we do and give up on it. According to Todd, she points that “today, it is virtually impossible to buy any product not embedded with certain symbols of identity acquired by the buyer knowingly or otherwise” (Todd, 2012:48). As well, in her article entitled “You Are What You Buy: Postmodern Consumerism and the Construction of Self,” Todd (2012) argues that consumption has a communication purpose for the other and that it became a way to convert the self in order to belong and to fit within a particular social structure. To tie in with this, we can use Facebook to see how we are giving into this consumerist culture. People use Facebook to virtually connect with one another by sharing photos, messages, and statuses. We develop a sense of online identity, and consume into this mass culture of social media – always keeping us with what others are up to, staying interconnected with news around from all over the globe. What people do not realize is that large corporations see this as an advantage. Advertising is nothing new, but it is quite rare that corporations currently have this level of...
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