America and materialism

America & Materialism

There is something perverse about more than enough. When we have more, it is never enough. It is always somewhere out there, just out of reach. The more we acquire, the more elusive enough becomes.

  • Unknown.

Name brands are taking over the fashion industry fast, and the music industry is ever booming with new artist and song writers appearing every month. The outlook on America has shifted over the years as the country is starting to experience an extraordinary economic boom. Society is often judged by the way they dress, their rides, or how much they are able to spend and then there was a sudden increase of spending on discretionary goods which the media claimed people could not live without as people started making higher wages. The advancement of the automobile industry, higher technologies and the radio and motion picture production, has made it possible for this great growth of the economy. Throughout this development, it developed a crucial transformation with the structure of our American culture, and that was the start of the climb of materialism, a problem that has come to face all Americans. Have you ever really sat down and really gave thoughts on about how much you value your possessions? Do you seem to value your belongings more than you now value friends, family, love, or yourself? If you put much thought into it you can come to agree with me on my position and my position on this issue is that Americans in this 21st century is indeed a materialistic culture because it creates unethical behavior, strips people of their individuality, and it causes people to lose their true value and morality of living the American life.

There is an old proverb that elders say, "The root of all evil is money." Money is however not what makes Americans evil, it is not money that is the problem but instead it is American's love for money that is the problem, a problem that is noted as materialism. We all dream of one day living that American dream. Many have their own perspective and definition of their American dream. But one thing for sure is at the center that American dream is materialism. This is because we live in a country where material things means more than a good education, where growing up in this society success is gain through material wealth and power, where amount of money we spend is based on material things which motivates our lives in most every way. America's society has turned into a materialistic world, living off from materialistic things, and using it to replace their happiness. Realizing that America is becoming corrupted by materialism is not a difficult thing to see, but it is instead difficult to understand and accept, and with this, something needs to change.

In the oxford English dictionary materialism is described as the tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more valuable than the spiritual values. The definitions of materialism are also greatly defined in a research from philosophers Belk (1984, 1985) and Richins and Dawson (1992). Belk in his definition of materialism describes it as "Americans believing that the acquisition and possession of things is the ultimate source of happiness". Richins and Dawson together have defined materialism as "set of centrally held beliefs about the importance of possessions in one's life." What they have intended to say was that people who follow this trend are willing to buy anything the industry convinces will make them happy. It is shown that Americans are easy prey for following the media trends and they follow it without further thinking, and this is where the problem occurs frequently.

It is common for people to desire many material possessions because our yearnings for material things are an attempt to satisfy our need to feel special and wanted. The society of the 21st century defines "socially acceptable" as the material possessions one owns such as, such as having the top fashion brands, the latest electronics, the biggest house, this all comes down to thinking that you need all of these possessions in order to be considered as being a part of the general public. As you can see our society contains a pool full of materialistic beliefs that cause Americans to become to feel the need to fit in with the society. One of the most afflicting consequences of expecting the world to fulfill our innermost needs is that it results us being in a competitive mode with the consciousness within us. Our societies imagine themselves as being more than what they are. Knowing that our surroundings are limited in what it is able to provide us, Americans then compete and challenge for the things that they consider and highly believe would bring them the happiness they desire like fame, friends, popularity, power, success, love, attention, and fortune which along the way starts to lose their real value. We are continually living our lives with the deception that we are working to live up to the standard income, but the truth is, there will always be a significant person out there with more than what we have. This kind of competition is extremely wasteful and absurd because they only cause Americans to recognize all things not for their true value, but more so of their materials. Materialism has affected our way of thinking, and has made Americans behaving more unethical in life, therefore, losing all the real meanings in life. It is something never-ending, and if we sontinue to see the world in this light, we will never be truly satisfied.

The 21st century is currently viewed that material possessions can produce happiness and strong forces in people's behaviors. A great deal of American's everyday lives includes the purchasing of material possessions. When we have what we want in life, we tend to look for more objects to buy or get. The more things we buy for ourselves, the more we feel like we need to buy more as those happiness feelings we get when we buy what we want only last shortly. We eventually become obsessed with our desires to obtain those objects, or become simply frustrated with the need to maintain them. Believe it or not, Americans spend on average $3500.00 (USA Today) a year on many unnecessary products such as the new iPhone, a flat screen TV, new brand name clothes, new laptop, or a vacation cruise. Nowadays the new products advertised on TV make the people watching it feel as if they need to buy that item when in fact it is really unnecessary. The problem with America is that we like to buy what we don't need just so we can show it off to our friends and say that we own that product. Americans spend money they don't have just to keep up to date with the latest fashion trends, and the media! It's really unethical on what this world has come to over the years. Whatever happened to the days where people watched every penny they spend and only bought the necessary items? Nowadays people spend extra money to 'pimp' our cars out, or extra money to buy name brands. Young teens these days would rather spend thirty dollars on a regular white tee shirt that may have a name brand printed across it than a regular department store which has the same look but for less. Our society has gotten itself in a never-ending circle. It all starts when we are young. While growing up, we learn from society and are greatly influenced by the examples of our parents and from there we learn that material possessions could offer security to us, that it is important to be in control of our surroundings, and that doing and saying only the right things is a good way to gain ones love and belief. We are then taught that it is important to fit in. This is where Americans lose their individuality. Many Americans strive so much to fit in that they forget about their own individuality. Many of people's personalities, styles, and ways of thinking are influence so much on materialistic things that they lose their sense of being.

Materialism has lead us to rely on things that is needless and has promoted selfishness and narrow-minded in people causing people to develop these negative qualities such as greediness, possessiveness, self-centeredness causing in the long run life dissatisfaction (Belk, 1985; Richins and Dawson 1992). In the long run, we begin caring less for our surroundings and our own well-being which would then bring us into competition with our own surroundings, abusing it, abusing other people and even ourselves in our search for greater satisfaction for life, a life we dream of, such as that American dream which is blinded by the materialistic culture we have brought ourselves into. Americans have taken advantage of the dependent values and attitude that come from believing that the 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 problem at all; they are simply the symptoms of mistake in our judgment of the world. We have been fooled by the society and our peers that material assets will bring fulfillment and happiness to us. It is the same way as of our addiction to all the materialistic things in the world. Materialism culture has taken over, and American's society has been abused with it, thus stripping us from our true individuality in life, creating unethical behaviors, and causes people to lose their true value and morality of living the American life.


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