Industrialization in America is like a double edged sword, our lives have become easier and our economy greater, yet still we find ourselves creating new problems. Since childhood, we have been bred into materialism, constantly chasing the latest trends such as the new iPhone, Tesla, or Gucci clothes. Whether we’d like to admit it or not, there’s a aching consumer in all of us, but how did we get here and how dangerous has it truly become?
According to the New York Times, we are now producing 47% more consumer goods than we had only 20 years ago. The introduction of automation through robots and machinery may have reduced the cost and sped up the production of that nice wishlist item you’ve been eyeing, but is this really a good thing?
In the end, the only one who benefits in that purchase is the big brand selling you the item. Did you really need that Prada bag?
Every single day, we witness first hand how we are fed new advertisements through apps such as Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, yet still we fail to realize how damaging this really is to our psychology. Worst of all these brands are more than happy to exploit this psychological weakness, constantly flooding us with their logos and slogans, deeply implanted within our brains. We don’t need to upgrade our iPhone’s every year, every other year, or in many cases, ever. Regardless we feed into this trend anyway, as these consumer goods have become status symbols in our current world, in truth taking advantage of our competitive nature and our undying need to seem better or at least on par with our peers around us.
Times are changing and so are our values. Rather than save up to buy a home or to invest our money into assets which may provide real value to our lives and the lives of our children, we still throw our money into useless items to fill the void that is a need for instant gratification.
Consumerism has plunged not only ourselves but our planet with it. Currently we overuse Earth’s resources by 70%, and if all people on the planet were to live like an average American, we would need 5.2 planets to support us.
If Earth’s history is compared to a calendar year, modern human life has existed for 37 minutes and we have used one third of Earth’s natural resources in the last 0.2 seconds. We clearly have a problem, and we need to fix it quick. We have to stop consuming!