Materialistic Delusion: How artificial social norms confine people to live past their means to achieve the illusion of social status.
MORPHEUS: “It’s that feeling you have had all your life. That feeling that something was wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad, driving you to me. But what is it? [Consumerism] is everywhere, it’s all around us, here even in this room. You can see it out your window, or on your television. You feel it when you go to work, or go to church or pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth” NEO: “What truth”?
MORPHEUS: “That you are a slave, Neo. That you, like everyone else, were born into bondage… kept inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch. A prison for your mind.” Its no surprise that in our ever-changing, ever-developing world of globalization and over-production, that there are individuals out there that question how we have agreed to live our lives, but within the greater public there is still an ignorance regarding mass consumerism. The movie The Matrix (1999) was probably one of the first globally presented critiques on how our social and political constructs work and attempt to provide us with a profitable and prosperous life. It questioned how we view the world and how the world views us. Perhaps though, it only helped create a small percent of our population’s defiance of the regulated and forcefully marketed world we are told to believe in. Our world, specifically in first world developed countries, has worked its way into a contrived and manipulated experience of the American Dream that defines success and prosperity as manufactured goods. For its purpose, this paper will focus on the United States of America and Canada as a unified being of North American spirit, rooted in the belief of a better tomorrow. In North America we are raised to believe that compared to the rest of the world we are more affluent and that as long as you contribute to society by living a normal life and working hard life will be better then the generation before you - an unjust expectation that has been twisted over those generations. This expectation has warped our beliefs and confused the average person to misunderstand the world around them, leading to inequality among the masses and creating social complexes that detach the majority of these average people from their economy. Brand association and the Material possession of having more makes us feel successful. This drive for ownership of material goods is intended to increase social status through brand and distract from societal shortcomings, making the owner more emotionally comfortable within society.
It can be said that if you have $10 in your pocket but no debt, you are richer than 72% of the Canadian population (according to a 2012 CIBC poll). Nowadays it seems that wealth and debt are relative terms when you consider that most people’s assets are tied up digitally in a stock portfolio or in how much or how little they have in a RRSP or 401K. We live in a digital age where money is more of an idea than a tangible object. Wealth, prosperity, poor, even impoverished are concepts that the average North American no longer seems to understand the definition of. When it comes to finance the average consumer has a warped perspective. We as a society have been raised to believe that the more stuff we have the better off we are. Certain items seem affiliated with wealth: you drive a BMW, you have a pool, you must be rich. My brother has a pool. News-flash: he’s not rich. Material goods help distract us from real world issues and inferiorities. In society, wants and needs drive consumerism and, lets be honest, you are only worth what you can provide others; your skills. Within that frame, if a person feels inadequate, they will fill the void with the attainable. Readily available material items create a high of...
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