Online Custom «The Whys and Hows of Consumption» Essay Sample
Consumption becomes excessive when people begin to buy such amount of goods that outweighs what is actually needed. In fact, when people consume more, boundaries are removed. Consequently, they begin to allow themselves to spend beyond their means. The consumption culture, that is popularized in media and by advertisements, convinces people that excessive buying is natural and normal. Many people are entrapped in the vicious circle of excessive consumption. It means that they sacrifice their free time and communication with friends and family to earn more money which they want to spend on goods they do not actually need. Although the rejection of consumption would bring significant benefits, in the modern world, it is impossible to escape from the culture of ownership.
Excessive consumption is associated with buying large houses, faster and more luxurious cars, fancier technology, and fashionable clothes. It promises happiness and indulgent, but in fact, it never provides the promised. Instead, it leads to a desire for more. Becker (n.d.) states, “Fulfillment is not on sale at your local department store – neither is happiness.” Only escaping from this imposed illusion of happiness by opting for a minimalistic way of life, people can fully appreciate everything they have and find enjoyment in ordinary things.
Studies show that money can buy happiness but only to a certain level of income. When a family reaches its limit of profits, nothing can be done and bought to increase happiness further. Thus, the secret of material contentment is placed slightly above the average earning level of a given country. In addition, the phenomenon of relative income can help to escape the idea of excessive consumption. It means that a person can be happy regardless the income they have, as long as they earn as much as their significant peers. Thus, the realization that a person is not poor in comparison to the quality of life of other people may help to deter from obsession with consumption and guarantee the feeling of happiness and wealth (Wringham, 2016).
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Escaping from excessive consumption may bring less stress and more free time since an individual’s life will not be focused on possessions, which emotionally and physically exhausts a person. Only intentional rejection of excessive consumption may reduce the desire to advance lifestyle norms (Miles, 2010). In addition, if people manage to eliminate or at least lessen the consumption culture, it will significantly reduce the social exclusion tendency (Schor, 2016).
Consumption worldwide has tripled in the last thirty years, which has accelerated the world industrial production. In its turn, the advances in production technology have seriously affected the environment by overusing natural resources of the Earth. Therefore, it is necessary for individuals and society to escape from the consumption to preserve natural capital. For instance, if people begin to use resources sustainably, it would result in lower rates of the production and ecologically less damaging services and products. Consequently, consumption “would become more costly relative to free time” (Schor, 2016, p. 327).
It is not possible to escape from the excessive consumption culture because it is inherent in the social and personal behavior. First, excessive consumption has become a new form of social competition. Through Veblen’s concept of “conspicuous consumption,” a person can become prominent in a given society by impressing others with his/her material possessions (Schor, 2016). In such culture, people buy expensive goods predominantly for the purpose of displaying income and wealth. In fact, no human being is unable to exempt from the temptation to become popular and respected in community. Thus, depending on the financial possibilities, each person strives to impress the surrounding using lavish purchases. Second, through the excessive consumption, people strive to receive recognition and trigger envy in others, which boosts their self-esteem (Becker, n.d.). Such moral grounds will not allow people to easily reject the desire to buy a new thing that can make a person feel worth, valuable, and important.
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Many people are convinced that if they reach the contentment in their lives by acquiring the certain list of things, their desire for excessive consumption will disappear. In reality, realization of one desires leads to the emergence of other goods-related wishes. Thus, if people are not motivated to combat this obsession by finding other non-materialistic passions, it is impossible for them to escape the excessive consumption (Miles, 2010).
Another issue that prevents people from eliminating the obsession with consumption relates to the prevalence of advertisements and media popularization of such lifestyles. The problem is that consumption is confused with pleasure. Advertising takes an advantage of the contentment principle, aligning products with pleasure-inducing images. However, advertising plays a little role in controlling people desires. According to Wringham (2016), due to a famine instinct theory, people are “prone to hoarding” (p. 87). Thus, they believe that it is advantageous to buy every time there is a good offer. In fact, there are always good offers because of competitive marketing and mass production. Thus, due to their nature people always are driven to buy something.
Nevertheless, it is possible to fight preoccupation with materialistic things by building a stable inner world filled with spirituality. For example, a person is likely to gain contentment in generosity by finding fulfillment and purpose in helping others. In fact, a solid inner world neither is completely detached from the material one nor rejects it. Instead, a person with such outlook may analyze better what happens in consumer world and critically analyze the information she or he receives to be able to resist the popular tendency of abundance (Miles, 2010). Although people try to pursue love, hope, and faith in their lives and have a solid inner world, the desire to be recognized and to increase self-esteem through the materialistic fulfillment outweighs the moral principles. An individual is socially dependent and can be easily influenced by external factors. Moreover, the construction of such an inner world that can help to resist the temptation of ownership needs significant efforts, education, and time. In fact, not every person has a desire to develop spiritually.