The Culture of Materialism

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Throughout our history we didn’t preoccupy our minds in needing wanting excess materialistic possessions, we only required things we used to survive the day-to-day routine; for instance, basic shelter, enough food, and the means to obtain resources/supplies to cover basic needs. However, nowadays our mindsets have changed drastically, we are now fixated on the excess material that is advertised to us either through social media or directly in retail stores. Therefore, we have created a delusional hamster wheel were have succumbed to buying and trading goods endlessly year after year. Consequently, we have a placed value on always having more, buying more, and hoarding till our heart is almost filled; however, after all those shopping trips, and compulsive buying behaviors we are still left discontent with an ever-growing void.

We don’t realize how all the material possessions we crave once obtained will still leave us feeling empty, and the happiness achieved will only be short-term. Sadly, many do not realize this concept and still delude their minds with illusions of completion in their lives solely based on material possessions. As a result, we create more problems than we initially solve; therefore, companies take advantage of this undesirable mechanism which they can feed new products too; thus, repeating the cycle of wanting something, purchasing it, flaunting it, and then craving more. Similarly, this is the lifeline of fashion trends; it starts with the diffusion of advertisements through various platforms where an amassed number of consumers start sharing and eventually purchase from one or multiple vendors. Later, this becomes the spotlight for a certain period where trends begin, and maturity stage of the marketing cycle begins. Ultimately, this where trends start dying off, and we find something new to start fixating on; see we can’t base our self-fulfillment and happiness on these trends or fashion marketed products it is self-destructive an endless cycle of consumption, our foundations begin within ourselves not some human-made product.


     As I was strolling through the local mall one on a Friday evening and seeing all the “Final Sale,” “Today only.” Moreover, I wondered should I take advantage of this sale that’s so alluring and so desirable which only supported my impulse to go in the store and browse through products I am only going to use a few times then end up in the depth corners of my closet. Which is why I suppress my impulses to purchase anything and just ended up window shopping. See our culture is fixated on materialistic tendencies since the beginnings of trade and commerce it symbolizes wealth, a long-lasting life, and a way to reduce/fix our problems. This the main reason why products are invented primarily to build an illusion in our mind the pleasures we will receive from using and showing them in social settings. Ultimately, this is the way we have thrived after the commencement of commerce, so why should this matter? Well our answer lies within a biological trait we are instilled with, the eternity question. The eternity question follows us throughout our lives; it plagues our mind to create values and metrics on how we evaluate our lives. Therefore, a mix of material abundance and eternal life metrics creates an everlasting craving for material attainment; in other words, when we purchase or seek goods the underlying value is that by buying a specific quantity or type of product will give us the high that we are going to have a form of eternal life. For instance, when we visit a clothing store, we see a few items on sale, and our mind goes banana for these types of deals which makes us think and this is the result. Those shirts look so lovely if I buy this one I can wear them for my next office party. Oh, this shirt would go perfect for my brother’s wedding. See the underlying value here; our impulses have a perpetual eternity trait, which is why we see all these monuments and statues with various names on them many of them unknown to us, which is one of the major components to our grueling hunger to attain material possessions this horrid value and its black hole of consumption.


     Now this unwanted trait alone isn’t what makes us a society materialistic, see our brain is one of the greatest and trickiest components of the human organism; our mind is made up of many emotions and logically based mechanisms which is why we need to cope with different responses and emotions with logical based thinking. As a result, many institutions have taken rigorous amounts of time to study the human brain and what triggers certain events, and they’ve concluded that our mind feeds more from emotion-based stimuli than logical reasoning. Ultimately, adopting different methods to seduce our emotion-based thinking compartment and with the rise of social media usage, this has only facilitated the way our minds reacts and what responses it has on our impulses. Consequently, social media is an easily accessible communications tool where they now have the power to advertise products and services. For example, Instagram has integrated a live story mode to its posting capabilities which displays a real-time event, and commonly businesses take advantage of this by posting a group of individuals having a grand time with the usage of their product in some form or a public figure using their product.

Ultimately, this has an untreated effect in our emotion-based thinking which generates social value for the product associated in the advertisement which is why we favor name brand products like Nike, Adidas, Apple, and designer clothing. It is all supported by celebrities and instilled in different forms of media; unfortunately, this has created a disastrous mindset in many demographics where if one individual is seen with a specific name brand product, they are given opulence and praise in social settings. Thus, spreading into other social issues like bullying and denigrating others due to their lack of attaining that product; however, many lower social-class individuals use their limited resources in achieving these wanted name brand products despite having any money left to purchase their necessities. As a result, many individuals do this to gain social status/re-assurance that they fit into a particular social cohort. This trait is inherent, though, throughout history, we have thrived because of social gatherings. From tribal groups to vast incorporated empires; although, we need human grouping to survive as a species we have based it off common values like religion, tradition, customs, or even a common goal which is more sustainable and meaningful than if our neighbor utilizes the same name brand shoes, phone, or electronic appliances.


      In summary, we cannot sojourn our materialistic predispositions altogether it is highly illogical since it is the bloodline for economies and the rudimentary functions of society. However, we can re-prioritize our values and how we perceive our purchasing impulses by really placing importance on things that matter and not evaluating others by what they have, nonetheless, what they offer. See our society provides a lot more commodities and luxuries than it did years ago due to technological advances and constant innovation; one thing that hasn’t changed is the wealth gap the subliminally deteriorates many. Sadly, many of us compare our lives because of the worldly possessions’ other possess, which is so saddening since many material objects are dispensable and replaceable. Ultimately, we need to place an importance on spiritual values and see what we can offer to others, not material items, simply what we can give intangibles like love, compassion, and acceptance of hardships. As a society we have become fixated on the material and how we evaluate our lives and others based on what they wear instead of going back to the roots of true human unification which are intangibles things that are not dispensable. Our happiness must be based on consuming less and prioritizing our happiness on spiritual and development of our well-being without the consumption of materialistic things.

By: Gerald Francis & Megan Pozzaglio

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