Consumerism in Our Society: Balancing the Equation
Consumerism is the introduction of the unnecessary consumption of goods that aren’t needed. Advertising is leading us to purchases of highly replaceable products that are unnecessary, perishable with the only purpose of continuing the mass production of goods within an industry. However, it is important to address that consumerism is necessary because we have real necessities to survive. As an example, food and clothing. Consumerism is a form of stimulation with the outcome being the creation and sale of more products. Big corporations are using advertising as a means to make us feel connected to their products and the target market group who purchase the same products. We concede that everyone has to consume certain products or services to survive, and in this a natural way to satisfy the essential necessities of life. This essay will explore consumerism in our society analyzing the negative and positive effects to demonstrate the necessity and importance of a balanced consumption in regards of people’s relationships, their happiness and depression.
The majority of people in society believed that they have the necessity to buy goods that they don’t need, regardless if the consequence is a massive debt burden. People have an impulsive need that is leading them to a compulsive buying of unnecessary goods. Benjamin Barber, in his essay “Overselling Capitalism with Consumerism” discusses that the problems in the economy is related to an irrational consumerism that is creating fictitious needs while suppressing genuine needs, resulting in the destruction of capitalism essential character. He states, “This is capitalism’s all-too-logical way of solving the problem of too many goods chasing to few needs. It makes consuming ubiquitous and omnipresent, turning shopping into an addiction facilitated by easy credit” (Barber 17). The most important characteristic of consumerism is the creation of an insatiable appetite that is leading us to consume goods, regardless of the consequences of the purchase. Society in general has morphed into a consumer society. For instance, people have become possessed to attain “the high” from consumer spending, regardless of the increasing debt burden they place on themselves. The proliferation of easy credit makes goods and services easily accessible. The intention of multinational corporations is to create a false need, therefore increased consumer spend. We already have all we need, but still we are craving “the rush” of the next purchase. Big corporations fool people in order to make them believe that they need certain products and that they could not survive without them. Consumerism has wider implications to society as a whole because of the pressure on the individuals to pay of their debts that is not sustainable. If this problem is not addressed correctly, depression and family disintegration will be the outcome. However, if we make conscious decisions on the purchases and the debt we are acquiring, we can balance our consumerist society.
People’s happiness is directly related with the amount and brand of goods they are buying. The correlation of consumerism and happiness is demonstrating that people who are buying more and brand products are happier than the ones who don’t buy them. Siegfried Zepf, in his article “Consumerism and Identity: Some Psychoanalytical Considerations” explains that commodities have their own identities, and when individuals are buying these commodities their identities are transformed developing an intangible wanting values for goods, disregarding their conducive value. He states, “Commodities are no longer offered solely as a means of meeting certain material requirements; they are now advertised to satisfy needs that are independent of their material usability” (Zepf 145). The influence that advertising are playing in our minds are correlated with our shopping habits. Advertising is not explaining the product characteristics. It is trying to sell sensations that are directly associated with brand products. Because of the exposure we have on regards of advertising, it is nearly impossible to become immune of it. We have been influenced. The action of purchasing goods is associated with ideas such as, being admired and successful, having freedom and status. Also, it is making us being part of a specific social group. It is absurd to attain a massive debt in order to “show off” that we possessed social status. It is important to understand that happiness is independent of the brands we are buying. At the end, happiness is unrelated with the goods we possessed. Additionally, Zepf asserts that “In their child’s development, today’s consumers were obviously dismissed into an object world in which they could not engage in emotional and stable intersubjective relations” (Zepf 147).
Consumerism is unbalancing society, debilitating values, and allowing immature behaviors in adults. While consuming, we are losing stability and values leading us to a childish behavior in adults. Benjamin Barber, in his article “Shrunken Sovereign Consumerism, Globalization, and American Emptiness” discusses that the lost of democracy is caused by consumerism and globalization, it is converting citizens into compulsive buyers with a careless and childish behavior disregarding the consequences of their acts. He states, “Consumerist capitalism, defined by an ethos of infantilization conducive to laxity, impetuousness, narcissism, and consumption” (Barber 74).
In addition, Barber asserts that “Private choices inevitably do have social consequences and public outcomes … Such private choices, though technically ‘free’, are quite literally dysfunctional with respect to our values and norms” (Barber 75).