Markets lined with luxury items, prices soaring, abstracts are the new trend; Anything can be sold if marketed the right way. Over the past century, the meaning of co-existing has changed: people view the society where they live with insecurities and luxurious commodities have found their way as the solution to solidify people’s position in the society. This culture of material position holding the power to extinguish the human nature of “ fitting in” is almost toxic. Keeping up with the times is ever so difficult- especially in today’s time- with the internet, so dynamic. We have all been culprits of making extravagant purchases solely for the purpose of fitting in our circle.
There is quite a perceivable difference in how we (the younger generation) view commodities compared to our parents and our grandparents. In the older ages frugality was the way to survive, but as time went on the ages prospered we could see the onset of consumerism. New commodities whose aim wasn’t to sustain but to improve quality of life started booming. It is high time to give consumerism a meaning in context to what this is about.
Consumerism refers to economic policies that encourage consumption of more commodities that may not be necessities to life, in other words, luxury goods. Such a consumeristic society would entail advertisements and promotional offers galore. A society where the ideal goal for fulfilment is through the purchase of luxury commodities poses a few problems.
First, however, the advantages of the consumerist society are that it stimulates economic growth, with the idea of a society where consumers are focused on purchasing goods and services demand is certain to go up and with it production which in turn will drive up the employment opportunities resulting in a cycle of purchase, production, earning, and repeat. As a whole, a consumerist society will have a high quality of life. Moreover, a consumerist society would favour research and innovations, as such a society will always be seeking the next best product. When consumers are the ones making all the decisions they are treated like kings, which is why it creates a safe environment for the people buying the goods and services. Also, companies are kept on their toes as the market is ever-changing and they have to find the next big thing.
However, along with the benefits come consequences. Due to consumerist behaviour, people sometimes spend more than they can afford to which runs them into debt. Such behaviour is empowered by the use of credit cards and short term loans. This power to spend over your affordability is a double-edged sword that requires self-control; however, consumerism slowly disarms the consumer and loosen the walls of self-control until it is so corroded that finances are a second thought. Moreover, consumerism prioritises the economy over the environment, as demand for goods and services increases producers tend to provide using any and all means possible, the idea of sustainable development is the first one out of the window when consumerism takes primary priority. Deterioration of the environment is the most lethal consequence of greed caused by consumerism. From an ethical standpoint too consumerism fails to gain many merits either, as in the efforts to make money for goods and services people use any means possible which usually means that one man’s gain is another one’s loss. It is noteworthy that consumerism isn’t a way to earn money quite conversely it is the ideology that enables us to spend excess cash which is why the rich only are affected by consumerism and those who cannot afford such goods and services are left behind with the time.
The unfortunate truth remains that in seeking short term fulfilment through the purchase of redundant goods and services doesn’t equate to long term satisfaction, conversely it is quite guilt-ridden. It creates a vicious cycle where the guilt fuels the purchase which in turn create more guilt and rinse and repeat. However, this in no means should be misinterpreted as an advisory for an ascetic life. Everyone has the innate want to indulge oneself in luxury and no one can be blamed to entertain such want. It is necessary to have self control and the power to subdue into the pit of overdoing it and falling victim to the cycle.