Two Cheers for Materialism

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Regardless of where we live, where we grew up, and where we are going, its influence has played an important role in our lives. Whether we know it or not, materialism is one of the most influential forces we interact with. In his essay “Two Cheers for Materialism” James Twitchell discusses the history, location, and impact materialism has had on society. With the use of the view points from many academics and historical figures, Twitchell offers insight into materialism’s effect on how we function in today’s world. He concludes all of this with the idea that materialism is not just the desire to collect commodities, but it’s a force that truly shows the advancement of society. From the days of horses and buggies, to modern day status quo of Hondas and Toyotas, the value of the commodity, both economically and personally, as drastically changed. The economic changing of materialism is obviously seen in the inflation of everything we buy (cloths, foods, cars, ect.) whereas the value these items have to our identities is not as obvious. In the essay, Twitchell makes his major point by saying that over time materialism has morphed from what we have, to what we are—that is, materialism is our identity.

Twitchell focuses a good portion of the essay on the development of materialism, and how it has become part of our identity. An important part of this idea, and how Twitchell views it, is that unlike how many academics view it, materialism is not this horrid idea that breaks us down into little soul-less robots, as depicted in The Great Gatsby. Twitchell argues that materialism is what makes us different then our pre-20th century selves. As Twitchell says “The outcome of material life is no longer preordained by coat of arms, pew seat, or trust fund.”(289) by this he means that materialism is now a choice. We can use it to decide who we are, by what we buy. No longer are we born into ‘what’ we are. This allows us “to be cool, hip, with it, with the ‘in’ crowd.”...
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