Todays Society Essay

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Have you ever sat down and really thought about how much you value your possessions? Do you value your belongings more than you value friends, family, love, or yourself? I have put much thought into materialism and maybe others should too. I have come to believe that materialism has become a way of life in todays society.

Materialism has been defined as the theory or doctrine that physical well-being and worldly possessions constitute the greatest good and highest value in life. (Heritage Dictionary, 3 rd ed. ) This means that we look to possessions to bring us happiness. We then use these possessions to make things and people behave or respond the way we desire. We have become so successful at fabricating and manipulating the world that we have come to believe that altering our surroundings is the way to solve all of our problems. We go through life contemplating that inner well-being depends on what we have or do. Due to these assumptions, materialism now carries the status that peoples religion, occupations, and bloodlines used to carry (Twitchell 1999). We identify ourselves and others by what we wear, what we have, and what brands we sport.

Our unrestrained consumption ascends the unlimited number of goods and merchandise available (Twitchell 1999). As the quantity and variety of products grow Materialism in Todays Society 3 larger, so does the demand for these products, thus resulting in mass branding. A brand is a product name or logo, that when consumers become familiar with, immediately brings to mind a specific product or service (Pavitt 5). We, as humans, want to fit in so we wear and use certain brand names because of the status we gain from them. Everywhere we look, there are dozens of newspapers, magazines, billboards, and television and radio shows supporting the belief that happiness can be rendered by money and possessions.

Advertisers try to convince their consumers that their product will make them so much happier or that their product will complete their lives and bring them fulfillment. They often draw in the consumers with a catchy commercial that contains a celebrity or model sporting their brand. This is a sure bet way to get the consumers attention! Materialism in Todays Society 4 Many celebrities promote products without that intention. This is because young people who idolize these famous stars want to wear what they wear. Therefore, this leads to free advertising for these corporations.

One such group was the rap group Run-DMC. This group frequently wore the Adidas brand. They liked the brand so much that they wrote a song called My Adidas. (Klein 456). This song led Adidas to become a very popular brand and people all over the United States started wearing the brand. Many people are brand hogs and pursue what ever brand is in style. If a celebrity is wearing a new brand, it can be assured that at least one person will mimic them.

This is especially true when the aspect comes to teens. Sharon Been stated, In 2000 alone, teens spent $ 155 billion on things like clothing, CDs and makeup. (Boston 2). In fact, the younger population has become so infatuated with celebrities that they have begun getting plastic surgery to try to look like their favorite celebrities. Two million young people had plastic surgery in 2003 alone (MTV, I Want a Famous Face). Since 1997, there has been a 293 % increase in the total number of cosmetic procedures. Surgical procedures increased by 87 %, and non surgical procedures increased by 471 % (ASAPS).

These surgeries are very expensive and have many risks; including death. Americans spent just under $ 9. 4 billion on cosmetic procedures; not including fees for surgical facilities, anesthesia, medical tests, prescriptions, surgical garments or other miscellaneous expenses associated with surgery. $ 6. 5 billion was for surgical procedures, and $ 2. 9 billion was for non-surgical procedures (ASAPS). We have turned to these procedures to feel beautiful and we believe that they may make us complete. Materialism in Todays Society 5 In the mid- 1970 s, almost everyones income stopped growing and they reduced their savings, but their spending still continued to progress at a rapid rate (Frank, Robert, 2004). In 1999, consumer income rose. 3 % and spending rose. 6 % concluding in a negative savings rate. Consumers spent $ 77. 1 billion more than their disposable income would ordinarily allow.

They did this by drawing down previous saving, selling assets such as stocks, and by going into debt (The National Center for Policy Analysis, 1999). Now Americans spend more on garbage bags for trash than 90 of the worlds 210 countries spend for everything. We have also miraculously doubled the number of shopping malls as high schools. In the year 2000, one in five families owned three or more cars, whereas, in 1950, most American families owned one car and had to struggle to save for a second (Kulman, Linda, U.

S. News & World Report, 00415537). Materialism in Todays Society 6 Americans have become extremely addicted to the material world (Russel, Peter, 2000). Most peoples initial thoughts of addiction probably bring them to the terms of drug abuse, but our materialistic views carry all the trademarks of chemical dependency.

Whatever the drug may be whether it be alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tranquilizers, prescription medicine, or some type of illegal substance people take it for one basic reason They want to feel better. It is the same as our addiction to all the materialistic things in the world. We are trying to have control over our environment and make ourselves either happy or happier. But any happiness we get is usually only temporary; as soon as one high wears off we go in search of another fix. We become psychologically dependent on our favorite sources of pleasure. Then there is also the ever-present problem of tolerance resulting from repeated use means we need larger and larger doses to achieve the same effect.

Therefore, some Americans tend to buy them selves into overwhelming debt. Materialism in Todays Society 7 Our society has caught itself in a vicious circle. It all starts when we are just young children. While growing up, we learn from and are influenced by the examples of our parents. We learn that it is important to be in control of our surroundings, that material possessions offer security, and that doing and saying the right things is a good way to gain ones love. We are also taught that it is important to fit in.

Most of our education focuses on knowing the ways of the world in order that we may better manage our affairs and find fulfillment. Wherever we turn, we are encouraged to become human having and human doings rather than human beings. (Russel, Peter, 2000) One of the most afflicting consequences of expecting the world to fulfill our inner needs is that it results in a competitive mode of consciousness. Knowing that our surroundings are limited in what they can provide, we compete and challenge for the things that we believe will bring us happiness; fame, friends, power, success, attention, and fortune. This kind of competition is extremely wasteful and irrational. We identify ourselves and others by what we wear, what we have, and what brands we sport.

Materialism in Todays Society 8 Materialism leads us to produce things that no one truly needs and encourages short cuts in the name of financial expediency. It promotes short-sightedness and blinkered thinking. Some people develop negative qualities such as greediness, self-centered ness, possessiveness, and general life dissatisfaction (Belk, 1985; Richins and Dawson 1992). We begin caring less for the Earth than we do for our own well-being which brings us in competition with nature.

We abuse our surroundings, our enviroment, other people, and even our selves in our search for greater life satisfaction. This is the main explosion of the world: the attitudes and values that come from believing that inner well-being is dependent upon what we have or what we do. Money, power, and other things that people often blame are not the cause at all; they are simply symptoms of a deeper underlying error in our thinking. Although it is impossible to exist completely without material possessions, we should think carefully about what we buy. All materials come from nature. If we continue to waste these resources at such a rapid rate, it is possible that they may run out.

Then how would we survive as a society? People need to distinguish their wants, such as luxury, from their needs, such as food, shelter, health care, education, and the opportunity to express ourselves. We can conserve by sharing possessions of a high resource impact, such as cars, and by buying more durable goods. People should buy goods that will last a long time.

Materialism in Todays Society 9 Researchers explain that material objects often serve functional roles and are necessary in our every day lives (Belk 1985; Former and Richins 1981). Materialism has been found to serve as a coping mechanism; helping to reduce or relieve stress related to painful life transitions. It diverts our attention to other alternate activities (Wallenstein and Kelly 1980). If materialism helps you deal with bad situations, then it isnt such a bad thing. Just remember to value the most important aspects in life.

Materialism has been found to help us deal with life and problems and help us escape from all the issues of the real world Just like a drug, material objects, luxury, and all the finer things bring us happiness and fulfillment. This is why I have come to believe that materialism has become more of a way of life for people in todays society. Materialism in Society 10 References Boston, Gabriella (2003). Designed to Fit In; Teen Fashion Defined by Peer Pressure. (The Washington Times, D 01). Bothelo, Greg (2002).

The Brand Name Game. (CNN New York, Dec. 05, 2005). Pavitt, Jane. Brand. New. (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2000). Russel, Peter (2000). Waking Up in Time, Materialism- An Addictive Meme.

Kulman, Linda (2000) Our Consuming Interest. (U. S. News and World Report, 2000). Plasticsurgeryresearch. info. Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Research. (2002 - 2003).


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