MODERN CONSUMERISM CULTURE - ITS BENEFITS, DRAWBACKS, AND IMPACT
WHAT IS CONSUMERISM?
Consumerism is generally defined as people overpaying for material things and services, such as luxury purchases made on the spur of the moment, wasteful and showy purchases made to support a lifestyle, and excessive materialism. Although it threatens established beliefs and ways of life, this style of being is typically frowned upon. It also goes against the middle-class populace, who frequently express dissatisfaction with big business. And although we have looked at the positive effects of consumerism on the economy, the statement mentioned above highlights the bad aspects of consumerism because it encourages capitalism, and communists or individuals who believe in communism will surely feel exploited if this happens.
Consumerism sees the consumer as an economic policy goal and a cash cow for industry, with the only assumption that boosting spending benefits the economy. Saving can even be considered damaging to a market because it takes money away from immediate consumption.
IMPACT OF CONSUMERISM ON SOCIETY
According to consumerism, consumers' happiness is largely determined by how much money they are willing to spend on goods. This concept is based on the famous economist Keynes' theory, known as the Keynesian theory of Consumer Spending. According to this idea, the fundamental engine of economic growth is consumer happiness, derived from spending and consuming goods. As a result, consumerism is considered a beneficial phenomenon from an economic standpoint because it supports output and economic growth.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
According to proponents of consumerism, consumer spending can drive an economy and lead to increased production of products and services. Growth in GDP may arise as a result of increased consumer expenditure. Consumer confidence indicators, retail sales, and personal consumption expenditures all show solid consumer demand in the United States. Consumer products sales can benefit business owners, industry workers, and raw resource owners, either directly or through downstream customers.
Consumerists think that the invention of new goods and services "lifts people out of drudgery," provides people with a sense of meaning and purpose in life, and has the potential to bring people from all over the world together in a shared consumer culture. Also, according to other experts, societal shifts in consumption are tied to human psychology rather than the notion of consumerism.
Consumerism is frequently chastised for its cultural implications. According to some, it can lead to a materialistic culture that ignores other values. Traditional systems of production and lifestyles can be supplanted by an emphasis on consuming increasingly expensive items in greater numbers.
Consumerism is frequently linked to globalization because it encourages the development and consumption of internationally traded goods and brands, which might be incompatible with local cultures and economic patterns. Consumerism can also encourage people to take on unsustainable debt, contributing to financial meltdowns and recessions.
Consumer products industries and the direct consumption impacts cause environmental externalities, which are frequently related to environmental concerns. Pollution from manufacturing businesses, resource depletion owing to widespread conspicuous consumerism, and trash disposal issues from surplus consumer products and packaging are just a few examples. Finally, materialism is frequently chastised for its psychological effects. It is blamed for creating status anxiety, characterized by tension related to social status.
According to a psychological study, people who structure their lives around consumerist goals, such as product acquisition, report lower emotions, higher unhappiness in relationships, and other psychological difficulties. Consumerist ideals based on income, prestige and material things have been proven to increase anxiety and unhappiness in humans in psychological research.
Consider the following list of tangible advantages of limiting excessive consumption in your life:
1. Spending less time looking after your belongings
Our time and energy are drained by the never-ending need to care for the things we own. The upkeep emotionally and physically drains our lives of items we don't need, whether it's keeping the property, restoring automobiles, replacing commodities, or cleaning objects made of plastic, metal, or glass. Our lives are far too important to be squandered on the upkeep of unnecessary belongings.
2. There is less desire to conform to upscale lifestyle standards.
The Internet has injected lifestyle envy into our lives that has never been seen before in human history. Before the digital age, we were left envious of the Joneses who lived next door—but at least we shared a few interests with them, for example, living in the same neighbourhood. However, today's media, particularly Instagram and other forms of social media, has made us envious of lifestyles much beyond our means.
Only a deliberate rejection of excessive consumption can silence the call for ever-higher lifestyle standards.
3. There is less need to keep up with changing trends.
"Every generation laughs at the old styles but dutifully adopts the new," Henry David Thoreau reportedly stated. Whether it's about fashion, decoration, or design, a culture centred on consumerism must offer an ever-changing target to keep its people spending money. And it's a skill that our society has nearly perfected. The latest fashion line is introduced as the latest must-have trend each year. But one way to stay current is to buy the most recent things as soon as they are launched. Of course, there's always the alternative of abandoning the endeavour entirely. This is the one I recommend.
4. There is less need to impress others with worldly items.
Social scientist Thorstein Veblen coined the term "conspicuous consumption" to describe extravagant spending on goods and services primarily to demonstrate affluence or wealth. Even though the habit has existed since the dawn of time, today's credit culture has enabled it to infiltrate practically every socioeconomic class in society. As a result, no human being is immune to its allure.
5. More happiness
Many people assume that if they discover (or achieve) happiness throughout their lives, their desire to consume excessively will diminish. However, I've discovered the contrary to be true. I've discovered that consciously rejecting excessive consumption allows satisfaction to take root. People discovered greater contentment than before when I started studying minimalism and consciously owned less. I could appreciate the benefits I already had once I stopped craving anything I didn't have.
6. Increased capacity to spot false claims
Your neighbourhood department shop does not sell fulfilment. Happiness isn't either. They have never been and will never be. This is something we all know to be true. We understand that having more goods will not make us happier. We've bought into the idea of thousands of advertisements telling us otherwise.
A FEW WAYS TO BREAK FREE FROM CONSUMERISM
It's not simple to break free from consumerism, but here are a few things you may do to start making improvements in your life:
- Take a moment to think about it
Have an insight into the life you've built. Do you have enough money and energy to devote to the most important things to you? Have your belongings been a source of stress for you?
Take a moment to slow down long enough to consider the big picture: your salary, your mortgage, your house payment, your spending patterns, and your daily activities. Are you content? Or are you suffering from the side effects of excessive consumerism?
- Stop following in the footsteps of others.
Just because your neighbours, classmates, and acquaintances pursue a particular way of life doesn't mean you have to follow suit. Your life is far too important to be lived in the same way as everyone else's. And if you believe that following all of society's latest trends will make you happier, you are mistaken. Just ask anyone who has come to a halt.
Recognize your trigger spots. Are there any stores that make you feel compelled to buy things you don't need? Are there certain items, habits, or pricing trends (such as clearance discounts) that cause you to react automatically? Is mindless consumption triggered by specific feelings (such as melancholy, loneliness, grief, or boredom)? Identify, recognize, and comprehend your flaws.
- Consider the cost of each sale that isn't visible.
When we buy something, we often merely look at the listed price. However, this is seldom the total cost. Our purchases are always more expensive. They necessitate time, effort, and concentration. Worrying, stress, and loyalty are all elicited by them. It's time to reconsider our spending patterns, rediscover care and purpose in our choices, and remind ourselves that happiness doesn't come cheap.