Entry 5: Your Notion of Consumer Society

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Write two paragraphs outlining the central notion you have gotten from our readings and discussions of consumer society.  This is a way of getting started on paper 1.

This is one way of saying: state the big general idea (foggy notion) that comes into your head when you think of the things we have read and discussed in the class so far about consumer society.

Develop the notion in two paragraphs.

If this doesn't make sense (notion and big foggy notion), don't worry.  Just write two paragraphs about the readings, viewings and discussions so far as you have understood them.


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Consumerism in today’s society has forced people to believe that without certain products in their lives they would not be able to continue on with the lifestyle that they have developed. But is this really true or are we simply made to believe this due to advertising and the constant bombardment of new products, new power plugs, new software, etc. Is it really necessary for us to all have every single one of these products in order to survive in our fast paced society or do these products and technology actually complicate our lives and in turn slow us down? Much of the advancements that we have seen have happened within the past 50 years, and people seemed perfectly content and successful with what they had 50 years ago.

How often do you hear people say, “Without my computer or my Blackberry or my ipod I would die!” This has become quite a common saying in the 21st century, not only amongst professionals, but also amongst children, stay at home moms, teenagers, etc. Address and phone books have become extinct and people are no longer forced to memorize or remember everything because all the information they could ever need is right at their fingertips. While this seems extremely helpful in the long run there are quite a lot of dangers in relying so heavily on technology. For example, if a person’s computer should crash they would lose photographs, contacts, to-do lists, work, basically everything that links them with the outside world. According to the author of “The Big Picture,” “These electronics may make our lives easier, but I often question whether they make our lives better” (p. 8). While we believe that the products that we are told to buy enrich our lives, in the long run once we have them we rely on them to the point where they are ruling us instead of the other way around.

Everyone in todays society, in the United States especially, are victims of the pressures of consumerism. The constant need to project the right self-image and therefore personality is affected by the necessity to purchase certain possessions that will reveal this message to the general public. The pressure of appealing to others is a norm in todays society and the only tangible way to achieve acceptance is by the purchases you make. Christopher Lasch described this insecurity, "When people complain of feeling inauthentic or rebel against 'role playing,' they testify to the prevailing pressure to see themselves with the eyes of strangers and to shape the self as another commodity offered up for consumption on the open market(P.53)." Skills, experience and personality are not accounted for as much as the physical representation that is acceptable or impressive in the other people's view.
This constant necessity to appear the "correct" way in society is stimulated by the consumer industries. Advertising is the major cause of the psychological insecurity experienced by the people. Commercials and adds constantly criticize our appearance and outline the "proper" way to look through celebrities and other models.It becomes an obligation to find ways to look just like the advertised individuals, since it is emphasized that that is the way everyone needs to look.In order to relieve some of this stress and pressure we try, "...Filling and healing the empty self...(P.32)." as Philip Cushman says with unnecessary purchases that make us "fit in" with the society's proper look. But the moment of relief does not last long enough and soon we grasp the bait once more of the consumer society.

The changing definition of “identity” presented in the “Consumption, Narcissism, and Mass Culture” reading sums up the ideas presented in the class. Identity was once described as “the sameness of a person or thing at all times or in all circumstances”. This definition has changed over time with the introduction of the consumer society. The word is now described as something “fluid” and ever changing. It lacks permanence and stability.
In my opinion, the consumer society diminishes its peoples’ identities. We become reliant on products rather than ourselves. If we want to be happy, we need to buy a new car. If girls want to look pretty, they need to buy this new makeup. If children want to have fun, they need to buy that new toy. Looking for answers inside our own selves isn’t an option. We look to external sources, as we have become internally bare. The consumer society tells people what to believe, how to act, and what will make them happy. It dictates our needs, as though it is our new brain. We no longer need to think for ourselves, as advertisements tell us the “solutions” to our problems.

We live in a world today where there are so many technological advancement, consumer goods and new products constantly been produced to make our lives more enjoyable and in some ways easy. This new consumer goods doesn’t just fulfill our physical needs in terms of pleasure and even mobility but more importantly, it opened the doors to the new life styles and fresh ways of obliging to our current societal change during the turn of the century and all this innovations have been possible and successful is due to the fact that we are constantly been bombardment by advertisement, the media etc appealing to our emotions on products and making us want things that otherwise don’t need. However, I believe that at the heart of our consumer society is its competiveness which for some people is bad whiles for others a good thing. I think that most people make a huge mistake when saying that competing through our consumer age is bad.
I happen to believe that competition in comsumerism is infact a good thing. I say this because there is a huge division between the different classes where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Although this divisions creates tentions in terms of how each views the other, i think its necessary for this gap to be there. This is where i see the rise of competition where the poor is been challenged to work hard and close that division and also know that with hard hard work and dedication to whatever you set to do, you can become or close those gap between the classes. In other words competition in consumerism challenges the individual to work hard in whatever job they might have and for this i think its perfectly fine.

Whether we like it or not, consumerism has become a crucial part of the American lifestyle ever since it's introduction in the 1920s. This economic system has created a conditioned desire within people to "keep up with the Joneses" that leads to feelings of inadequacy and questions about true identity. In today's modern age, identity can no longer be a well defined term that refers to someone's sameness, but is now a fluid term, accounting for the ease at which people's identities can change with the goods they purchase.
"You can't judge a book by it's cover". This age-old adage is quickly becoming obsolete in a society where people are judged every day by their outward presentation. According to Christopher Lasch in "The Minimal Self","...the conditions of everyday social intercourse, in societies based on mass production and mass consumption, encourage an unprecedented attention to superficial impressions and images, to the point where the self becomes almost indistinguishable from its surface". The success at which one can infer about others merely from their possessions creates a society where people rarely take the time to get to know each other. In our society, deep connections between individuals are being forfeited for superficial ones merely because groups of people outwardly present themselves in a similar manner, creating a false sense of similarity. For many, their inner personality does not shape their outward appearance, but this appearance now defines them as a person.

Throughout the years, consumerism has led people all around the world to believe that without technological advancements the world would not be able to function. Technology is a part of everyday life that we treat almost as human. With its continual development, people have learned to attribute every type of emotion towards it. As technology breaks or falls apart, people yell and cry; as technology shortens the time needed to finish tasks and makes life easier, people are genuinely happy. Technology has created a cyber space for people: it has provided an escape for those who want to occupy themselves; it has also proved detrimental to those who lose track of time, so engrossed in technological world that they cannot decipher between reality and the imaginary.
Consumerism has definitely changed the world that we live in. Although, many agree that it has given positive assets to one’s life, we must also not forget how technology has made our lives convoluted and introverted more than ever. As Suzuki explains, “ Technology can be enormously valuable asset, but when it ceases to be a tool for a specific purpose and becomes an end in itself, that’s when you know we’ve lost perspective.” Many lose the sense of direction and focus through the world of the internet or other technological advancements. Nowadays, people tend not to appreciate the daily privileged things that the world had offered so long even before technology was even introduced. The connection between people to people has become limited; the amount of time meeting someone personally has exchanged with the usage of text messaging, and a whole new generation of people staying home to play video games has become a normal state that people tend to forget the nature we see outside-the real world. The imaginary sense of fantasy and the unrealistic ventures has created a scapegoat to those who do not want to deal within the reality.


Consumerism in itself is a way of control. A control that is embedded into people minds and wallets. We humans of the 21st century have been brought up to believe in adds and campaigns thought up by the media and follow what they think is "in" or "out". "He learns that self-image he projects counts for more than accumulated skills and experiance." Lasch goes on to suggest that not only is available to the rich but to everyone, since these products have such a large array of choices.
Only only is it a part of our society but now it is sown into our daily lives. " The psychological effects of consumerism can be grasped only when consumption is understood as another phase of the industrial work routine." The is made easy and possible by the tactics of mass media. The accessability to view a T.V, look in a magazine, browse the internet exemplifies our needs to desire products and shows how we are ruled by them.

Consumerism in today’s world is a double-edged sword, although the proliferation of technology and availability of material goods allows people to do so much more than they have been able to do in the past, that same ability is also their handicap. SparkNotes keeps students from delving into classic texts that enrich their vocabulary and understand of literature, we develop relationships with our blackberries and iPhones instead of the people we are so busy typing to all day, and we buy things just for the sake of having them. To have all these commodities are your disposal has led people to completely rely on them instead of using them as additional tools. To go a day without one’s cell phone results in them feeling anxious and separated because people feel the constant need to be in communication with someone at all points of the day. As a response to this new consumer dominated society, its citizens have also drastically changed. Priorities have become centered on acquiring new material goods and even dating rituals have changed. Where once a boy would call a girl’s home to ask her on a date, now he can IM her, text her, message her Facebook, or call her cell phone. People have come to define themselves and other by the things that they own, which leads to a constant need to buy and have more.

As I said, consumerism is a double-edged sword, there is both good and bad to it. However, as with everything in life, things are good in moderation, so too much of one thing tips the balance too much in one direction and that is what is currently happening in today’s consumer society.

Consumer society is different now than it was in prior generations. Products, such as cars, were made in one color and that was black. It was basic and everyone that could own a car would. You either had the finances to buy a car or you did not, it was just that plain and simple. Now a days cars come in different brands, colors, and models. Prices vary on each car which allows most people to own one. Choosing a car is not that easy anymore; there are too many things to consider. People are getting caught up in the little things that advertisers are trying to sell them. They think having different colors and styles will match personality and the truth is that these ads are personally attacking you to get your money. With conniving schemes they make the ads very personal to you so you feel the need to buy whatever they are offering. If you are a fun, bubbly person advertisers may want to sell you a yellow Voltswagon bug. Do you need a yellow slug bug? No, but you'll look good in it.

Consumer advertising may also cause depression. When it is too difficult to buy the newest products on the market some people take that as a personal threat and feel like they are not connected with the world. Sadly, it seems that material items make people happy and when they are not connected with the latest fad they become depressed. That says a lot about our society. We have become so caught up in "stuff" that was forget about what is really important, things like family and friends. You can not buy friends and you definitely can not buy family. People should stop worrying about the material things in life and start thinking about things they people they have in their lives that will always be there, never cost too much, and will never go out of style.

“Work, leisure, nature, and culture, all previously dispersed, separate, and more or less irreducible activities that produced anxiety and complexity in our real life, and in our “anarchic and archaic” cities, have finally become mixed, massaged, climate controlled, and domesticated into the simple activity of perpetual shopping.”

I chose this quote because it was the first time I realized how controlled our environments are. Anytime a product is being sold, we forget that hundreds of people worked hard to figure out the best possible way to sell that product. Whether that means billboards, soothing background music or peaceful furniture colors, consumers are conned into buying the product that’s advertising was the best. The average buyer does not know which mop is more efficient; we watch commercials and decide to buy whichever appeals to us the most. Whether the sun is beaming onto the city or rain clouds have taken over the sky, the inside of malls and stores will always be the same temperature. This comfort makes me more inclined to shop knowing wherever I go, I will feel comfortable. Not only that, but also I can assume the smells and sounds will also ease my day. By malls appealing to my five senses, I forget that the fake trees and air fresheners resemble a real phenomenon that occurs right outside my door. If I want the feeling of nature, I should take a walk around the block before I step inside a concrete building with hundreds of other people buying the exact same things I am going to buy. Although advertising provides millions of jobs for Americans all over the world, I believe it is time for us to make our own decisions without the subconscious appeal toward ordinary products.

Consumerism has become a major part of American society. Since the 1920's, technology has been growing rapidly. Not only are the products/consumer goods becoming more advanced but these smart phones and computers are in competition with themselves because old versions keep going out the window and new ones are introduced. These smart products are such the rage right now and it is crazy to think how just ten years ago, VHS was still big. Now we have DVD, but that's even starting to go with the new inventions of Blu Ray and Hi Def tv. It is crazy how fast technology is growing and it is crazy to think how it controls our lives. I know more and more people these days who only want a computer for their birthday or a new iPhone or Blackberry or plasma, flat screen tv. I recently watched an episode of abc's Modern Family where the dad on the show only wanted an iPad for his birthday and when he thought he wasn't going to get it he was so sad but then when he got it he was ecstatic and thanked his wife and told her she was the most amazing person because she got it for him. One, I didn't even know what an iPad was until I saw this episode, which I think is funny. I also think it's very interesting that you are regarded as an amazing person for getting someone a hip, up to date gadget.

So not only does the idea of how rapid technology is growing and competition interest me, but so does the idea that technology may make things easier but don't necessarily make things better. We learned from the article the Empty Self that we buy things because we are empty and we are filling that emptiness and meaninglessness and absence with material goods. It is interesting because buying things brings pleasure but it is temporary pleasure. That pleasure will not last. It does not sustain us. People fill their emptiness or whatever is hurting them with things because they want to escape from reality. This is not healthy, and yet people keep on buying and buying as if it the right thing to do, the most important thing to do. Whether or not you think you have a consumer addiction, I'm sure at some point we have all at one point in our lives been guilty of buying things when we don't need them at all. People buy from desire, not usually need, which is a problem that leads to mass consumption and usually waste. You look in the window and think I need to have that shirt, or you look in a catalogue and think how nice that vase would look on your shelf. It is all unnecessary but we are sold because we are easily manipulated by the media and ourselves. The media appeals to us through our emotions and we let ourselves feel the thrill and excitement of consuming rather than actually feeling the reality.

Products used to be sold as necessities and essentials. Only recently, within the past 100 years, did products begin to be sold based on desires and individual identities. This shift in consumerism took place when advertisers realized that they could make humans act irrationally by linking material items to emotional appeals. This is showcased in the 1920’s in America when the advertising industry transformed the image of women smoking cigarettes from being taboo to portraying freedom and power.

Now that the purchase of consumer items is dependent on our temporary feelings, we cannot seem to acquire enough. If we are happy, we buy. If we are sad, we buy. Even if we are content with our lives, we buy. The theory that we are never truly satisfied as individuals and are only momentarily filled up is referred to as the “Empty Self”. According to Philip Cushman, “It is a self that seeks the experience of being continually filled up by consuming goods, calories, experiences, politicians, romantic partners, and empathic therapists in an attempt to combat the growing alienation and fragmentation of its era" (p. 32) in “Why the Self is Empty”. The more we rely on material items and technology for our happiness, the thinner our personal relationships will become until we are completely alienated from society.

Consumerism undoubtedly plays a crucial role in every person's life in our society today. We define and group ourselves and others largely by the products that we consume as well as our ability to consume them. We also classify ourselves by the products that we do not consume, such as people who do not consume animal products grouping themselves as vegans. Even those people who somehow manage to escape the "consumer society" entirely, define themselves by their choice not to take a part in it, so their self-image is still tied to consumerism. Thus, our relationship with consumerism is based mostly on the innumerable choices that it gives us.
Our love of the large choice of products available to us through the "consumer society" is perhaps due to the fact that we are denied choices in so many other areas of our lives. Our decision-making and creative abilities are slowly being disconnected from our jobs and replaced with a mind-numbing sense of obedience (27 Lasch). It is no coincidence that the highest paid and most desirable jobs in our society are the ones that allow us to exercise our love of choice. The consumer society has literally capitalized on this desire to choose and has given us a never-ending supply of choices in the form of consumer products. The variety of products to choose from is growing at a tremendous rate, to the point that we find ourselves "needing" products that did not even exist a year ago.

Consumerism has a massive impact on our society to this day leading some individuals to buy certain products even though they may not even need them. Many individuals feel as though they have to get every new technology that comes out or else they would not fit in to the society. However, what was wrong with the minimal technologies that we had a few decades ago? People obviously still survived without the iphone, ipod, and the many other consumer products we have today. Yes having the telephone makes it a lot easier to talk to a friend or relative that is far away from you, and yes the internet allows us to research a broad range of topics a lot quicker. Nevertheless there are also many consumer goods that society could live without.
As i was watching television on day, I saw a commercial advertising a new application on the iphone allowing its owners to turn off the light in their house with a click of a button on the iphone. Although many consumer goods have helped us over the years, some like this new application on a phone are absolutely unnecessary and are hurting society. People have become extremely lazy and rely on different technologies to do all of their work for them. Yet individuals still feel reluctant to buy them. “Individuals do not wish to buy if they do not perceive a need for a product. But with an empty self people always need” (Why the Self Is Empty page 36). People should get up and walk the five steps to turn off a light instead of having a piece of technology do all of the work for them. Consumerism has reached a stage where it is starting to hurt us rather than help us.

Today's consumer society has altered people's relationships with family, friends, and lovers. It has done so with the extension of childhood, and the freedom children have gained, as well as with the apparent need of goods and appearances. People no longer get to know you before judging, they can look at your back pocket or your cellular device. Children are no longer required to attend family meals because they are out at the movies or the mall with their friends buying food at the cafeteria. Technological development coinciding with the consumerism that envelopes us has created alternate realities and alternate forms of communication for dating that can either help people meet or can tear people apart. It seems as if the world is less personal and more about convenience.
The change in relationships and social interactions can be seen in all aspects of life, "One midwestern university observer noted, "failure in studies is not as important to college students as failure in social adjustment."" (pg. 27). Changing with the current trends has become so important in order to show people who you are which has altered the way people interact. People are not as neighborly or friendly as in the past. Now wearing the right outfits and makeup can get you in the right social groups and influence others decisions to talk to you, where in the past your moral values were seen as more important. First impressions are made by appearances and can either help or be detrimental to future relationships. Consumerism influences so many aspects of our lives that it does in fact change how relationships between family and significant others function.

Tyler Durden from the movie Fight Club said, “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need.” This quote explains the power of advertisements to dictate our lives. Much of what where we go and what we do revolves around our next purchase. Consumerism has made individuals dependent on certain companies and items for their sense of identity and self-esteem. From apparel and cosmetics to cars and houses to technology, the consumer society controls our individual identities and our relationships with others.

Does consumerism gives individuals the power to define themselves or does it trick individuals into believing they have the power? I believe that consumerism tricks the individual into thinking that they “need” consumer items and therefore choose to purchase them. This gives the consumer the illusion of choice and therefore the mere illusion of power. Our control over consumer society versus consumer society over us has become a neck-to-neck battle. We are clouded by consumerism. It is omnipresent and inescapable, which is why in all of our lives we have managed to create a place for it. Eric Hoffer said, “You can never get enough of what you don't need to make you happy.” We buy products to fill this void. Unfortunately, the “consumer society” aspect of our lives is quite literally impossible to satisfy because of constant desires and “needs.” Shopping or just going out to buy “stuff” has become to solution to our bad days, the reward to our good ones, or the time-passing activity for our boring ones. We are all victims of consumer society and submit to some form of advertisements to make us feel like we are upgrading our lives and ourselves, especially in areas where we feel discomfort and fear.

The development of the consumer society since early on in the 20th century has greatly changed the way Americans go about their daily lives. The quality of life and relationships has practically been degraded for the sake of convenience. This is reflected in advertisements that leave us consumers wanting the latest technology to further “improve” our lives by completing tasks with minimal effort and giving us more reasons to be lazy. We rely too much on technology to keep us entertained and occupied that we habitually overlook what we miss out on while being plugged in all the time. I believe that the most harmful effect of the growing dependence on technology is the lack of personal interactions with those we are the closest with. Advancements such as text messaging, for example, allow consumers to feel “connected” when, in fact, virtual conversations are often artificial, giving the false impression of a strengthening bond, and can interfere with establishing real relations with those immediately surrounding you.
Consumerism, however, is not to be looked down upon. Not only does it provide us with the reliability and consistency of a brand name or the security of having a cell phone in case of an emergency, but it also gives us a sense of individuality and expression. Nonetheless, we must find a healthy balance of consumerism’s role without getting so caught up in technology that we lose sight of the natural beauties and wonders of life. After all, merely looking at a picture of the beach is not nearly as exhilarating as being there first hand.

It is easy to bemoan consumer society as the end of traditional family values in favor of an artificial, even narcissistic existence. Consumerism has been vilified ever since the first Ford Model T rolled of the assembly line. But while it is easy to criticize the advertising agencies or the greedy Wall Street moguls as destroyers of social relationships, the reality of the fact is that consumerism is a natural and welcome phase in human cultural evolution. Consumer society has allowed modern Americans to enjoy a higher standard of living than was ever thought possible, thanks in part to the plethora of technological advances that have accompanied the growth of consumerism. No longer do Americans slave away in the fields and die of polio, malaria, or smallpox. I am not arguing that consumerism is perfect and has made life better for everyone. But it has brought about incredible economic and social innovation that has been embraced by just about everyone.
I believe those opposed to consumer society are taking it for granted. In his essay against modern technology, David Suzuki argues that technology has created a race of human beings “wrapped up in a virtual world and not in the real world” (1). But Suzuki fails to acknowledge that without modern technology, his opinion on technology would go unnoticed. Ironically, mass media has allowed critics of consumer society and technology to voice their opposition. I am sure even the most vituperative critics of consumerism own ipods, cell phones, laptops, cars, microwaves, televisions, and countless other modern marvels that have been made accessible to the masses thanks to consumer society. It seems to me that the only real opponents of consumerism are psychologists who need to justify their professions with speculative theories on the evils of “an empty self”.

Consumer society began in the early twentieth century. Spurred by technological and social changes, consumer society was made possible by the Industrial Revolution. People now have the means to mass produce goods in order to allow a consumer society to form and take place. Consumerism begins to flourish in the early 1920’s and by the 1950’s it quickly becomes the corner stone of the American economy. Continual production and consumption of goods allow for the economy to grow and develop. But, because most of these goods were nonessential products, consumer society required the help of psychology to expand and assure its livelihood.


Bernays, a psychologist and a nephew of Sigmund Freud, used his uncle’s psychoanalytical ideas to manipulate public opinion. This was the start of modern advertisement. Advertisement no longer used facts to logically convince people to buy their product but rather it appealed to the irrational. Products were no longer bought because there was a need and it fulfilled that need. Rather, consumer goods were bought because they reflected their buyers. Products were but the reflection of the buyer’s identity; it reflected their wants, their desires, and their own self-image. A woman did not necessarily smoke because she liked it. But rather, she smoked because she has the irrational idea that smoking was liberating. It reflected her desire to have power and worth in a male dominated society. It reflected her own self-image of being a strong woman. The cigarette became her symbol of freedom and liberation from the traditional bonds of womanhood. They were her “torches of freedom.” With no logical basis, smoking had became the symbolic representation of women’s liberation.

Consumerism has caused people to be concerned with what they wear, what they have, and how the society views them. When a new model in the marketing business comes out, people feel like they must have it to fit in the society. Nobody wants to feel like strangers, or be intimidated or humiliated. The constant need to upgrade is a must for a person who needs to be satisfied and wants to “satisfy” other people. Nowadays, individuals are concerned with how another person perceives him or her instead of what makes them happy. “Both as a worker and as a consumer, the individual learns not merely to measure himself against others but to see himself through others’ eyes” (p.52). The things an individual possesses are the sources used by others to classify your class.

Consumerism dominates our lives. Our lives are surrounded by “fantasies”. We are dependent of these commodities. We live “in a world that has no objective or independent existence and seems to exist only to gratify or thwart his desires.” As soon as a new commodity is produced, individuals consume it immediately. Commodities are bought not because they are useful, but because they are the new product and it changes your “fashion”. When a new commodity is produced it “dictates a complete change of wardrobe” for women.

Consumer society has caused people to feel the need for certain items that are not necessarily a necessity. Cell phones were invented in the 80's and really started to take off in the 90's when they became more portable. Now people would be lost without their cell phones. Personally i do not freak out when I forget my phone, but some people can not live without their cell phone. When you think about it a cell phone is no different then a tracking device. When you were in high school, or middle school, your parents first got you a cell phone so they could keep tabs on you. They want to know what your doing and who your doing it with at all times. If your cell phone was dead or not working, some parents (not all) would freak out. Imagine not being able to contact your child until he is physically in front of you at home. Cell phones have changed the way we live and their is no getting around that.
Consumer society has influenced people to be more frivolous with their money. Look at the recent housing problems. People wanted to get big fancy houses that they could not afford because consumer society says if you have this big house then you are better then the person in the small house. But what if you cant afford a big house. Banks loaned money to people they knew could not pay back the loans (and with an absurd amount of "adjustable" interest) and now our country is in an economic downturn, largely in part to the greed of consumer society.

In the minds of some, consumer society has earned a bad reputation, yet there is absolutely no way to avoid it without also giving up the things we have come to rely on. I am not talking about cell phones, or the internet, or cars because we all know of times where people have been able to live without them. I am talking about all of the life saving advancements that have developed alongside of these less necessary ones. Advancements that people were not once able to literally "live" without.
How can we expect and accept the advancements of vaccines, medicines, hospitals, and surgical procedures but not expect progress to be made in every other aspect as well? Of course advancements in the areas that save our lives and have significantly lengthened our life spans do come with a price, but so has every other invention or improvement in the past, depending on who you talk to. It just so happens that beginning in the 1920's, advancements were being developed in bulk, and this time, the price takes the form of a consumer society.

There is no question that consumerism and advances in technology are an important part of people’s lives these days. Where would we be without it? People rely on these things to make their lives easier. Faster communication was achieved through the cell phones; faster transportation came from cars; faster information is thanks to the internet. Since the twenties people have had life so easy with all these advancements. We could obviously live without them since people had to in the past but overall consumerism is a positive for our society.
Many of these articles argue that consumerism and technology is a bad thing. Like Suzuki said in the Big Picture, “The constant focus on technological distractions can distance us from our families, our communications, and the world around this.” This I would have to disagree with. In the world we live in today technology has made communication for families better. As a student in college I know how important the phone and email is when I need to get a hold of my parents. Without things like this I would have no way of staying in touch with them. With people going off to college and moving away from homes technology just makes it easier to communicate not harder. Imagine your life without these technologies, it would be tough.

Our lives have radically changed over decades of innovation in the consumer society. It has changed the way we keep personal relationships, and how we invest our money. We are surrounded by displays in markets, drugstores, and shops that compel us to waste our money on commodities that we think we need. The credit card was introduced, because we are consuming more than we can actually buy. As we are incessantly involved in consumer society, our time is also consumed, and that as why we need structure. This necessity dictates our life in that we have set schedules and are always connected to everyone else through new technology. In order to be apart of society, and have a successful career, you must buy into social products such as the blackberry or computer. One's identity in society is essentially defined by how much you give and take from consumer society. People are judged by their personality, profession, appearance, and other factors that are all somewhat dependent on consumerism. A person's personality can be conveyed through technology like facebook and myspace. Appearance is dramatically affected by consumerism through makeup, clothing, and even the type of car you drive. Everything a person uses portrays something about them. Consumer society has changed and will continue to change everything about life and identity.

Our capital market and consumerist society began to grow rapidly after the birth of the Industrial Revolution. We as a society have become increasingly more manipulated by the powerful driving force of this consumer machine. Particularly, advancements in technology and influences of the media have developed into "effective instruments of social control (51)." Advertisements and the mass media have managed to persuade the public into believing that they wont be whole unless they purchase the next big thing.

Advertisers persuade their consumers through emotional means. Through carefully crafted methods, they mange to manipulate consumers by making them feel that unless they purchased their product, they would be left "empty". This twisted way of conveying advertising information to our society, leaves us all wanting more and thus always dissatisfied. Advertisers and the consumerist society, have eliminated the idea of a true identity, by in a sense defining who we are and who we will be. We have become victims of this poisonous society, and thus in turn have lost our true self.

In our modern society that is based off consumerism it becomes hard to distinguish between the fine line of morality. With so many options that are presented to us in daily life our choices can become confused and muddled. In the article Consumption and Narccissism the idea that is presented as a defense to modernity is that now that our world has so many options all cultures can be incorporated and have option to their own sense of self and identity. While I agree that these different options help to incorporate the masses into society, perhaps the way that the options are presented is why we find ourselves becoming actually more limited.
With no clear moral constructs, as everyone now can choose the image they want to create for themselves, there becomes a misconstrued concept of the self. With so many identities it can be daunting to find your own place in society. As everything becomes more accepted, someone's faults can be excused upon their beliefs and rights to their individual self. However, by giving everyone the power to morality takes away from the basic truths of reality. "If moral values can no longer taught or transmitted through example and persuasion...always imposed on unwilling vistims." (pg 36). It seems to me that without clear constructs in society, as everyone can choose their own identities, we are losing the sense of the true self and the true and correct values that all societies should have.

In Today's society consumerism has come to define the American culture. There's so much pressure on individuals to consume and buy the things that they see, whether they need it or not. Advertisers and big corporations are at fault for this. The goal of any company is to effectively sell their product and make a profit. Companies advertise in order to appeal to people's weaknesses, their fears, their insecurities, their desire to fit in. This proves as effective in that individuals purchase goods in order to make their lives easier and to present themselves to others in a way that they would like to be perceived. This brings about the notion of a "false self."
Through the purchasing of particular products it is very simple for a person to create their identity. It can be argued that this in turn ruins people's sense of identity. Consequently there is no true self. With new products constantly being produced people and their lives are ever changing. In addition, although these products serve to make life easier, they also bring about dependency. Even things that people, in theory, should be able to live without are cause of dependency. People feel lost if they are unable to use their cell phone or go on the internet. Not only do people consume these products, but the products, in turn, consume them.

Consumerism has become deeply incorporated in our society. It has brought much technological progress that has benefitted out society substantially, but it has also negatively affected our culture. Consumerism has become a way for people to express themselves but also a way for people to show off social status. It has become a way for people in our society to gain status through the purchase of nice things, however it also emphasizes the distinction between the upper class and the poor, working class who would never actually be able to afford a yacht or personal jet. Advertisers certainly take advantage of these personal desires to accumulate goods, as they use specific tactics in their advertisements that appeal to our emotions so we will buy their product. Consumerism has inevitably become ingrained in our way of life.

As Robert Lynd notes on page 24, "advertisers...took advantage of the contradictions besetting the individual consumer who, in response to the frustrations of social change, found comfort in consumption." This highlights how the modern American deals with their everyday life, by consuming things. This is a much different way of living than say, fifty years ago, and shows a substantial change in our culture that consumerism has brought. Our society has definitely become more modernized due to consumerism, however we have to wonder if it has come at too big a cost. Consumerism has depersonalized many aspects of our life, simply from the way we buy our clothes instead of making them, or how we purchase food from the grocery store rather than growing it ourselves. Advertisers want us to buy their product because supposedly it will benefit us, but in reality it's just another thing that probably won't make our lives that much better.

The overall attitude toward our consumer society portrays to me a feeling of negativity, seemingly based on the notions that consumerism is simply self-indulging and creatively limiting. The easiest hole in this argument is visible in the question of what our alternatives are contrasted with this society. Our democracy here in America supports this system of consumption. But the alternative means of government, such as communism, outline life and consumption for its citizens. Advancement in the work place is rare because work is assigned. In America, promotion is possible and worked for through hard work, leadership, and creativity. It is clear that such a way of life as their's is much more creatively limiting than our own, so it follows that ours is the preferable means of living if one seeks intellectual innovation.
As to the aspect of self-indulgence, we should be sure whether or not we think this a good or bad thing for our nation. Self-indulgence implies a manner of living in which one seeks things out that one wants. How is this done? The typical first step is to go about gathering the means by which a trade may be facilitated, that is, to work to earn money. So here we have an individual who is working hard in our society, which is a good thing taken at face value. Next, the individual takes the earnings and spends them on something that they want. This economic trade is a single occurrence of a transaction on which our society is dependent. This system is thus, self sustaining and internally generating. In addition, this type of trade is nothing new. We have been doing this sort of thing for centuries, and hasn't it worked great? What other means of living with others could work? Self-indulgence may be prevalent in this society, but it is a very positive, natural trait that all humans have.

Consumerism can be defined as the relation of personal happiness with consumption and the purchase of material possessions. Our society today abides by this definition. As we live in a world where we are constantly judged by what we wear, possess, or say, we feel compelled to act the same as everyone else so that we are socially accepted. Because we are aware of this notion, we try to be individualistic with what we buy. A variety of products on the market today help us with this idea of “individuality” or the desire to be different. Whether it is the latest technological advancement or newest fashion, we are constantly looking for materials that will help us define not only ourselves, but our social status as well.

The use of electronic equipment has increased drastically over the past few decades. Everywhere we look there are people talking/texting on cell phones, running with Ipods, and browsing the Internet with computers. These devices have increased the ease of living, but they do not necessarily make our lives better or worse. For instance, I think we have taken new technological advances for granted (i.e. using a GPS instead of a map), but I also think they have benefits that correlate with our ever-growing busy world. The Internet has made huge leaps in terms of communication worldwide and families around the globe can easily stay in touch because of this. Also, Internet dating has become popular among individuals who do not have the time to meet people around town. Though I think these are positive uses of technology, I feel that my generation has become one of “instant gratification”, where one can find information, buy things, and throw parties without saying a single word. Because of this, I think we sometimes lose personal touch with others since we often do not talk face to face. On the other hand, we can talk to more people at once through chatting and instant messaging. Either way, technology has definitely changed the way we live, for better or for worse.

Our culture today has changed in terms of relying on “unnecessary products” as some would say. Technology has developed to an intense level where communicating with the surroundings has caused the world to be lazy. Although the means of technology has helped our world communicate and globalize entirely. Consumerism is the mass consumption and the desire to consume products that have been exploited in the media. Some approve of the mass consumption, but some believe like it’s failed our social culture.
Technology has advanced ever since the 1920’s, causing our country to feel as if they need to have what everyone else has. Technology has advanced and created our culture to have the desire to want the newest thing that comes out. Advancements has led to make things uncomplicated; from house phones, to fax machines, to computers, to cell phones, to internet, and means of communicating via machine rather than in person. The connection between people is undeniable, and some take it for granted. Being able to talk to people across the world by just picking up a phone is crazy. Our personal identity is a crucial part of the major effects of consumerism. Our society judges others by what they are wearing, what they own, where they live etc... Because of the advances in technology, judgment will continue to be made causing the consumer society to buy more and more products.

Consumerism has gradually become a necessity for survival in America. It has become a description of a person's status in society through their consumption of stylish clothes, shoes, technologies, accessories, cars, homes, etc. The rise of consumerism also brought about the rise of self-consciousness. People began to feel that their material possessions aided them in defining themselves and having a crucial role in society.

The increase in technological innovation and the use of advertisement has paved the way for the success that consumerism has had on the lives of Americans. Technology has created the possibility for mass production and has made consuming instant. It creates less lines, more products, a diversity of products, and an easy access to the availability of products. Advertisements have also helped in shaping decisions in American life. The appeal and creativity that is put into advertisements for products have simplified peoples decisions on what to buy and what is needed. They have swayed people to believe in the ads and not the facts. These characteristics of consumerism in America are on a continuos increase an upgrade and have managed to become a part of American culture. It seems very difficult to be able to detach ourselves from something that has become a crucial part of our lives.

Today’s society has become more focused on the idea of what a product can make one look like or how it will elevate one’s standing in society, rather than the actual product itself. Consumerism can be defined as purchasing without the need. We live in a consumer society, a society where buying can fulfill emptiness. Men, women, children, and teens buy for emotional reasons rather than practical reasons.

People today are so worried about how others perceive them. Advertising does a good job of implementing how people feel about one another. For example, a recent car ad shows a beautiful smiling blonde girl driving a convertible, as men are stopping to watch her drive by. This image plays on the emotion that one will feel more attractive and confident if they are driving that particular car. People buy the car for emotional and psychological reasons without thinking of how, in reality, if it is actually the right car for their lives. Cologne ads also show how advertisement can sway how one feels. Cologne ads show women attracted to men who are wearing a certain type of cologne. The ad pretty much says, “wear this cologne and you will get women.” The advertisers are playing on someone’s lack of confidence and suggesting this product will benefit the consumer.

I cannot say for certain that people giving power to objects is a new occurrence in our society. That is a subject that would best be described by an archeologist or historian. However, I do know that high consumption rate is new to this past century. After reading the articles, I realized that the high consumption rate was greatly spurred by the development of mass production, correlated to an increase in urbanization. This allowed businessmen to be able to offer their products to a larger audience at cheaper, competitive prices. Instead of objects of power being traded among the elite only, the objects were now available for trade among many people. Most luxuries were only available for the rich and wealthy and the majority of the population had been accustomed to not owning any of these fine possessions. They had no need, as they could live their lives without the items of prestige and influence. However, if these items were within their affordable reach, then of course, who could help but admit that they wanted the items. But if these items, in turn, increased their social status and their own self approval, suddenly these not-so-necessary items felt needed.
Many articles mention psychotherapy addressing how items can be used to alleviate emotional and spiritual problems. Not directly though. You wouldn’t hear a psychotherapist stating, “Are you feeling down and miserable? Feeling like life is just treating you like shit? Well, I have an idea as to how to put you back on your feet! You’ll be back on top of the world in no time. Just buy some insert product here and call me in the morning. Better yet, pick some up for your friends too. Don’t have any friends? Cheer up, because you will after you have insert product here.”Though this monologue may not be said by a psychotherapist, I’ve heard this type of talk in other places throughout my life. I’ve heard similar repetitious speeches coming from T.V and the radio, and have read many more through magazines and store advertisements. Sometimes, even directly from the salespersons stationed schematically within the mall walkways. Salespeople have learned how to target and manipulate audiences, not because the public is lacking a self, but perhaps lacking a sense of acceptance. This is an idea I hold true in my experiences in life and with people; Everyone just want to be accepted, to believe they have a place in this crazy world that we only inhabit for such a short time. People had once found acceptance through religion, and the occasional material items for the privileged. Now, in this fast paced world, where spirituality is often seen in regards to those who have exploited it throughout history, people have turned to materials. Unfortunately, exploitation in this realm of human defense has led our society to overconsumption.

Consumerism over the last century has been rapidly expanding and rewriting people’s day to day activities and values. With each generation that passes we become more entrenched in an entirely humanized world, where nearly every facet of life can be aided through a new and relatively recent technology. Children born in this era will grow up with technology devices and will take them for granted. As time progresses, the natural world is being replaced by an urbanized and virtual world created by humans for humans. Although the utility and convenience of consumer goods is impressive, it is too easy to forget they are a small part of a gigantic biological system that is vastly more complex. If our values are not balanced to respect the natural world, our historical roots may be forgotten.
The shift of our society to a consumption based nation is a rolling snowball. As soon as the industrial revolution hit its stride, and goods became inexpensive enough for the median income to afford, consumerism took root. When the switch was made to canned goods, mass produced clothing etc., it became uneconomical to revert to old methods of living. Now that consumers save a certain amount of money on a product, there is money left over to continue to more purchase goods. As affordability rises, the line between needs and wants becomes less important to the point where a want can feel like a need. A modern day example of this is that no-one needs to be able to listen to music all the time with, however nearly everyone owns some sort of MP3 player because they feel as if they need what all there peers have. This trend is visible with less practical items too such as yo-yos and scooters.

Today we live in a society which has been classified as a consumers society. What this means is we are all on a competition to buy the newest gadget or toy without necessarily needing them. We all have a desire to consume as much as we can in hope that we will raise our social status. Based on what we have consumed and own will shape how people perceive and respect us. For example the consumer society has greatly effected the way people now deal with relationships. Valentines day is a big holiday for couples but all it entails is for them to buy each other gifts. To me it seems like during these holidays you are buying your relationship through the exchange of these gifts. K-Jewelers slogan is “every kiss begins with K” which makes it seem like you are buying a kiss when you buy from K-Jewelers. All of the consumer holidays have all been a response to advertising.
Advertising has created this idea of a consumer society. Advertisers show up a fantasy world and they relate them to a product in hope that we will buy them. Advertisers manipulate people through advertising. The most clear example we have gone over is the advertisement of cigarettes. Cigarettes were initially a male oriented product but once the advertisers made represented the cigarettes as power for woman, more woman started to buy them. From this example we can see that our consumer society is the advertisers presenting a false or fantasy world to us and we consume and pretend we live in these types of worlds. But in reality cigarettes are not giving women more power and we are not living in the types of worlds they make us think we are living in.

Consumerism the beating heart of America
Lives in America could not been easier without the development of the Industrial Revolution. Before the Industrial Revolution most Americans lived in rural areas and worked on farms where all necessities were handmade; they had to grown their own foods and made their own clothes. The Live expectancy for an average farmer in America was less than 50-year old. All that changed after the development of the Industrial Revolution in America. People began to migrate into urban areas to look for better jobs. With better jobs people began to have money to spend. Mass production made it possible to introduce cheap products to the average American consumers thus began the consumer nation. Americans can now buy anything they desire in stores. Live is easier but it comes with a price, we are easily influence by the advertising industry; there goes the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses.”
With the rise in consumerism brought forth the notion of the empty self. To sell their products the advertising industries, according to Lears, “attempted to cure by implying that products would magically “transform” the customer’s life” (Pg 34). One thing the advertising industry did well is that they tapped into our inner emptiness and sell their products to make us feel whole. Therefore, made us buy unnecessary items to make us feel we are part of a culture or more specific to be part of a group.

The central notion that I've gotten from our readings is that there are many people who are not content with the changes consumerism has made in the United States since the early twentieth century. I've also noticed that I'm not one of those people. There seems in particular to be a lot of stress placed on the psychological changes resulting from consumerism. Arguments have been put forth which link these changes in society with “frustration”, “persistent feelings of discontent”, and “superficiality.” These things have existed long before the twentieth century; they are natural; and they are not necessarily “bad.”
For example, in “Setting the Course” attention was given to the fact that “competition for status goods divided and often frustrated spenders.” It appears to be assumed that division and frustration are thus byproducts of Consumerism. Scientifically speaking, competition is just a part of life. Competition is an integral part of evolution and therefore it is also an integral part of how humans came to be (I'm assuming that we accept the theory of evolution). It is these types of arguments that link Consumerism with man's tendency to have feelings of discontent which have captured the majority of my attention. So, while I understand that there are definitely problems resulting from our Consumer Society (pollution being one of the first to come to mind), I find myself feeling as though much of the criticism we've read comes simply from man's tendency to be unsure of change.

In our modern age, we find that our societal emphasis on community and relationship has become absent from our mindset, replaced by an emphasis on the self and the individual, independent of the people around them. I believe that this loss of community is the single greatest disaster in global history. To explain this loss of community, people cite the rise of advertisement and consumer culture as synonymous with the rise of the individual, and from these two synonyms this modern death of community rises, but are these two ideas synonymous? I believe that they are not. I take the stance that emphasis on the individual came first, and that consumerism and advertisement is a natural response, when placed in a capitalist context, to this growing sense of individuality and independence. I therefore believe that this new, modern emphasis on individuality is not the source of this loss of community, but that it is capitalism that plagues and misguides our pursuit of individuality, driving us away from each other. In fact I believe this emphasis on the individual could potentially save our global community.
But how exactly is consumerism a natural, capitalistic response to the growth of individuality? To understand this, we must first understand the movement toward individuality. With the rise of personal freedoms, and the ability to leave the strict social castes of early society, there came an emphasis on betterment and self-development never before seen. But as with any emphasis, there is profit that can be had. If companies could convince the public that their products were created in the interest of self-development, or that they were necessary to the normal living standard, they could sell anything. To convince the public, advertisement became a persuasive medium, aimed at appealing to our sense of self and our individual need. Thus consumerism was born, and since that beginning it has evolved, harping on the discrepancies it creates, adding to our sense of self-importance to widen its market, shaping the definition of individuality to incorporate goods. There is a natural market when a people emphasize their needs, and their desires over anything else, that allows a consumer based industry to flourish, and in the name of capital, that is exactly what consumerism does.

very rough, sorry

Consumerism in American society has changed the way in which we as a people view goods and services. It has become vital to be connected digitally in order to function as an active member of society when it was never necessary in the past. These necessities were wrought mostly due to the innovation and advances in marketing which arouse strong emotions to the point in which masses of people are drawn to certain products or services.
To say whether or not these changes to society have been an improvement in our overall quality of life would be presumptuous as there certainly are numerous drawbacks to these dependencies on technology, though it is equally unfair to rule out the benefits they have had in many important fields like medicine and transmission of media. It is now possible to know facts and to exchange information at such a rapid rate that was never even considered fathomable in the past.

Consumerism plays a large role in today's society. It is a major shift from the past as it provides the theory that the greater consumption of goods is economically beneficial. We no longer witness parents teaching their children to save their money, but instead witness children who are bribed by toys. We observe teenagers and adults that judge their peers on appearance rather than character. Overall, there has been an offset from traditional values to those focused on materialism. Our family, friends and the media tell us that it is important to get the latest gadgets and dress with the newest fashions. It is very important for us to "keep up with the Joneses". If we do not, we are looked down upon.
Consumption is a normality. In order to fit in with our peers we need to prevent culture clashes by filling up with material goods. We have always been empty inside, but now we can fill our voids with a new identity that is made up of ideal people and goods. With additions of propaganda through advertisements and science's breakthrough with technology, a new idea of identity among society has been instated, ultimately creating new ideals and transitions in social statuses.

The modern American society and culture has recently, in the last one hundred years, or so, become one of consumption and capitalism. In the past, culture was individualistic and actually had some meaning to those it applied to. Nowadays the American culture is a mosh pit of cultures and ideas, where the only clear feature that stands out is an intense consumer mindset.

This has resulted in many negatives that are clear in everyday society. People are less individualistic and less able to think for themselves. Although new technology has resulted in an increase of standards, at what price. People are controlled by the bigwigs in industry and the leaders of the consumer society, big companies. Freedom has become less free because choice no longer has consequences other than what cereal to eat in them mourning. Society has become a big group of people, trying to buy the next new cell phone, or fancy clothes, while the real important stuff all goes behind the scenes.


It seems as we continue on with the discussion on consumerism, many fail to include themselves in the emotionally turmoil of consuming, of filling that emptiness of self and extra time in daily life with self-gratifying indulgences. It’s an occurrence that happens to most, and yet, maybe for the sake of sanity, it seems still that many don’t want to change the societal and psychological structure now governed by technology. And why would we want to change it? To a degree, technology and the fulfillment of knowledge saves lives, broadens horizons; it increases life happiness. But still, though it may be positive in these aspects, too much is always bad, and the advancement in technology seems to be mostly directed in superfluous, unneeded items that the masses of sheep could do without.
The masses include everyone in the American culture, for I think we all participate in these feelings of inadequacy and emptiness which drives our economy. In the discussions and readings, there’s this sense of need to go back to our roots, to back to nature where things were pure and, well, natural. Technology gives people a great source of escapism, a different reality, an unrealistic setting, Many do not like to admit that they use technology for this very reason, as do others described in the readings. Before others analyze and scoff at the emotional attachment people have to materials, it’s time for everyone to look inwards at their own attachments, to admit their need for unhealthy and sometimes healthy escapism, though touchy the subject may be.

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Tingle published on April 7, 2010 3:21 PM.

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