Tips & Guide

10 Ways Consumerism Hurts Us

We are all aware of the fact. The jig is up, as we all know. Consumerism as a way of life has failed to deliver on its promises of happiness and pleasure, as we all know. Instead, it has left us with poisoned water, barren forests , and polluted air.

On top of the hurts it has inflicted on our planet, it has wounded the emotional and spiritual state of people as well.

What is Consumerism

Consumerism is a type of capitalism that ave rise to the “American way of life.” In contrast to the previous European industrial model, which was centered on productivity, it anticipates an increase in employees’ purchasing power to encourage them to consume. It’s the marketing triumph: selling anything to anyone. Consumerism is the dominant ideology and ethos of a consumer society, or market society, in which the whole of social life is penetrated, even structured by the economic.

Modern consumerism is driven by the infinite expansion of desires. This paradigm, which directs all of the consumer’s desires towards the objects of consumption, develops happily at first – it’s full employment – but it quickly transforms itself, as Herbert Marcuse predicted, into a machine to destroy the libido.

Then comes compulsive consumption focused on instant gratification of urges. As a result, the consumption society generates dependence rather than desires. This is a risky paradigm since the user gets dissatisfied, much like a drug addict who is reliant on what he consumes but despises what he depends on. This leads to growing frustration and worrying behaviors such as the destruction of the family structure, the fear of adults towards their own children or a generalized depression.

Consumerism has hurt you and I deeply, and this is how

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You’ve forgotten ancient skills.

In a consumption-based society, you are not encouraged to try to make things yourself – you are encouraged to buy them instead. Instead of promoting self-sufficiency, you are told to pursue money and status so as to ensure that you purchase the items and articles you require. Skills that most people knew, like growing food, cooking, mending items and creating items from elementary ingredients continue to fade into the forgotten.

Read also: The Evolutionary Reason Why You Should Be a Minimalist

You don’t share anymore.

Before our modern era of hyper-consumerism, thriftiness, community and collaboration were valued traits. Now, thriftiness is seen as being cheap, community is seen as a lack of independence and collaboration a show of weakness. When buying supplants the sharing, borrowing, reusing and recycling we are left embarrassed even ashamed to meet our material needs via these low/zero-carbon methods.

Old=bad.

In a society where the dominant economic ideology pushes consumption, it is inevitable that it devalue anything that might damper the surge towards getting the next new thing. As a result, things (and even people) that are old are only worthy of being thrown out. In order to hasten the cycle of purchasing, materials which are not even ‘old’ in any functional way are presented to us as outdated so that we may buy new replacements soon. Fashion and electronics are two noticeable examples.

Money is the controlling influence in your life.

growing moneyStatus, beauty and relationships are closely tied to material goods. Higher-status jobs are tied to higher salaries. Our modern conception of beauty is of a person adorned in expensive products, nice clothing and with an impossibly perfect body. Relationships are highly regulated through regular exchange of often needless and useless gifts. When core elements of your life are controlled by the amount of money you have available for you to consume, its influence is nearly boundless.

Read also: 9 Simple Ways to Teach Your Kids About Money

You work to much.

Technology has exponentially improved worker productivity. Things are produced more cheaply and faster. However, hours of work has not decreased since over 50 years since the 40-hour workweek was implemented. Therefore, we are working just as hard, but producing stuff faster and more cheaply. Where is all of this stuff going? That’s where consumerism comes in!

By enhancing marketing and advertising, people now consume all of the excess productivity, as reflected by our much bigger homes and wardrobes. Instead of taking more time off and producing the same as we did 20 years ago, we are drowning in excess stuff that we don’t need or want.

Alternatives that diminish consumption are unavailable.

If you want to try to pursue alternative lifestyles, like zero-waste, you may find that it takes a lot of dedication, planning and thought. Which is surprising, seeing as this lifestyle is beneficial on so many levels. But when the economy is dependent on hyper-consumption, everything needs to be as wasteful as possible. It is therefore hard for those of us trying to live simply, go zero-waste, or buy nothing new.

Your connections with nature are severed.

Back in the day, when were mostly farmers subsisting off the land, our connection with nature was very strong. Our fortunes and misfortunes were deeply connected with the way that the natural world operated. We spent plenty of time outdoors, we knew much about the land, plants and animals.

Now, our connection with nature has been eroded and replaced with connections to brands and objects. How many common plants can you identify when you go outside? Not many. How many brands can you identify? Dozens. This almost complete detachment from nature damages our health and spirit

Read also: 8 Simple Ways To Improve Your Lifestyle

Hyper-consumption takes away your freedom.

Who can you really depend on? Not yourself, you’ve been completely deskilled. You cannot grow food, provide your own health care, or build your own shelter. Your direct community? No, everyone is as deskilled as you. We all have to depend on very large and unsustainable systems for even our most basic needs. How can we claim to be free if we are so entirely dependent on people we never see, don’t care for us and are ready to replace you for higher profit as soon as possible.

Read also: How to Successfully Create a Sustainable Wardrobe

You don’t know who you are anymore.

Imagine if you were too lose all of your possessions. Your car, your clothes, your apartment. Your job disappeared as well. Who are you? It might be hard to conceptualize because consumerism has pushed us to define ourselves so closely with what we do to make money, and how we use that money. The idea that everyone has intrinsic value, regardless of what they do or have, is now a radical idea.

The earth bleeds and you bleed with her.

My favorite author, Charles Eisenstein, often speaks of how painful boredom is to us in modern society. It perhaps one of the most painful daily experiences, to sit around with “nothing to do”. So we’ll eat ice cream. Or buy that purse. Or watch another show. Anything to stop the excruciating feeling of boredom from creeping in. Why is that? Eisenstein suggests that we were are free from distractions, we feel the pain of the earth as she is destroyed. We feel the pain of what is wrong with our society. And it kills us.

Read also: 13 Unexpected Environmentally Friendly Gift Ideas
Happily, there is an easy way to fix this problem. As consumers, we are key players in this destructive economic system. If we chose to consume less, buy more often from our communities, buy fair trade and ecologically sound products, we can start to heal the wounds that hyper-consumerism has inflicted on us. It all starts with you and how you spend your money.

AboutKara

I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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