Consumerism: A social problem


The addiction to acquisition has become an everyday thing in American’s lives. Why Americans overspend? Is it the new ways of advertising? Or maybe the cultural shift toward American materialism?

Believe it or not, we have a culture that drives us to buy more and to have the latest products in order to fit in the society and feel “a better person.”

American culture has had a huge change with regards to our way of perception about goods. We live in a consumer society where materialism is dominant. Goods and services are obtained not only to fulfill human’s basic needs, but also to have a special identification in the American society.

Consumption and consumerism are two different things. Consumption is based on satisfying our basic needs; shelter, food, health and education. On the other hand, consumerism is more about materialism; things that drive us to satisfaction, self-actualization and self-esteem.

We live under social pressure, which instills us the definition of overspending in luxury brands, cars and technological devices as a natural thing that we as a culture do.

Think about the iPhone 6. In the same day this iPhone was launched, Americans went to the stores desperately to get Apple’s latest product. The need to have the newest product was higher than the fact of having to be hours in a line.

Additionally, the demand has been so high in the U.S that if you want to get an iPhone 6, you will have to wait three to four weeks until it even ships.

With the release of iPhone 6, we can see how our dependence on material things is increasing. The number of iPhones 6 sold in the first day of its release was the double of the number of iPhones 5 sold two years ago.

It must be noted that our consumerism is also linked with economic issues.

People will do almost anything to obtain the means to consume and this portrays Americans working for long hours in order to indulge themselves with products that aren’t necessarily worth buying. The fact of having more than needed also leads Americans to dept and economic issues.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce and personal bankruptcy, American’s personal savings rate has dropped from 11 percent to below zero since 1982.

This compulsive spending is not only affecting high classes, it is also affecting lower classes. It is common to see a middle class American with a pricey car or brand-name shirt, because they spend most part of their income in “status products.”

We have created this mentality and it is difficult to resist it because it is now part of the culture and what all of us unconsciously do. Although there are products that make our world a little better or faster, we have to control ourselves and think about what is really useful and what is just unnecessary and not worth spending.