If you scroll through your Instagram or Snapchat, you’ve undoubtedly seen at least a few pictures of Kylie Jenner and her latest addition to her makeup line, or maybe you’ve read the brand new scoop on the upcoming iPhone, or the newest shoe trend literally everyone seems to follow (like this one, basically) Sit down with your family for dinner, and your sister will tell you about amazing deals in this store or that one. In fact, the average American sees 1600 advertisements everyday. It seems as though we are constantly on this search for the newest thing, the newest trend to follow, and what to buy. The truth is, it wasn’t always like this. 70 or even 60 years ago, everyone (with the exception of the rich) brought things purely out of necessity. Unnecessary spending was frowned upon and seen as wasteful. So, how did we ever come to be such a consumerist society?
In order to understand this question, we first have to know that to live means to consume. As humans, and as living things, we have always and will always consume oxygen to breathe, food to eat, and water to drink. Consumption isn’t a bad thing; it’s completely natural and it’s been going on since we came to be. However, as technology has advanced, so has our ability to consume. An example of this is food. We could potentially live off the same simple diet our great-grandparents did just fine. But now that we have the technology and means to enjoy delicacies like chocolate, burgers, and ice creams, why would we ever want to settle for less? Another example is clothing. Really, two or three sets of good quality clothing is all we need. But with so much choice, and so much pressure to fit in (or to stand out), buying clothes has become somewhat of a hobby for many. Now we need a different pair of earrings to go with every outfit, a fresh shirt for every day of the week, and they all need to be washed and ironed to perfection. (keep in mind that this contributes to our growing rate of energy use, which means air pollution) Humans have always loved to consume, but now that it’s so much more convenient, it’s come to the point where it’s taken over our lives.
Especially since the end of World War Two; America was experiencing expansion in many ways. There was a great economic boom, as well as a Baby Boom, and as men were returning home from war the suburban culture was born. An easy, fun, and much-needed lifestyle was marketed towards the new families after the depression the war had caused. Processed food, plastic toys, saran wrap: all of these daily and convenient household necessities had been invented during this time, making USA the standard of living across the world. This easy lifestyle spread quickly, but the problem is that the ‘simplifying’ of our lives still hasn’t stopped today. Whether it be doggy treat dispensers , or a hands-free book holder, our desire to make our lives easier is messing them up much more than is obvious.
And there are actually many of us who do care about the environment, and we do want to make a difference; but the solutions we learn about in school and see on the TV have turned being ‘eco-friendly’ into a business. Ideas like ‘buy a more energy-efficent dish washer!’, or ‘buy an electric car!’ are often nothing more than schemes dreamed up by the same businesses who messed up the environment in the first place. It’s kind of like becoming obese because of fast food and then McDonald’s pretending that they’re good for you now that they have salads. It just isn’t idealistic or real. Consumerism is causing us to forget the good life Mother Nature made for us. Fruit is candy, our legs are our transportation, and nature is our playground.
And no, you don’t need a doggy treat dispenser. That’s what a bowl is for. Nor do you need a hands-free book holder. That’s why you have hands!
By Gurher Sidhu