Producing excess material goods requires extra energy and labor that people could be putting towards spiritual matters or self-discovery. People suppose that it is crucial to work excessive hours so that they can acquire more possessions. In Walden, Thoreau claims, “…the laboring man has not leisure for a true integrity day by day; he cannot afford to sustain the manliest relations to mean; his labor would be depreciated in the market. He has no time to be anything but a machine” (3). People end up wasting their lives away not truly living, but merely existing. They lose their sense of freedom, and consequently they lose their happiness. In modern society we have increased our possessions considerably since Thoreau’s time. People are constantly trying to catch up on the latest clothes, technology, and other material objects.
Thoreau also argues about how humans are focusing less on nature and more on material objects and technology. When people lose touch with nature, they also lose touch with themselves. People nowadays barely spend time truly connecting with nature. Everyone is too busy making appointments, going to meetings, watching TV, or going on the Internet. People in society have forgotten how connected humans are with nature. We can learn more about ourselves from spending time with nature than we can anywhere else. Thoreau tries to demonstrate this when he lives in the woods for a couple years.