Is Consumerism Consuming us?
Consumer, as we spell the word, means, “One who consumes”, here consumption relates with any thing we have, we purchase, we own, we wear, or we consume. In other words, it refers to the person who purchases different products for one’s use and luxury.
In today’s scenario, the concept of being consumer is changing. Today’s consumer does not purchase goods or commodities only for consumption but also for possession. The concept of possessing more things has gained wide acceptance. Parents often tend to purchase goods for the children which they generally don’t require. Today’s children are facilitated more then necessary. Out of love towards children parents often forget that over facilitating the children in turn makes them more dependent and intolerant. Such purchasing happens as a result of extensive marketing done by malls and such shops. Off season sales on certain goods and unavailability of some goods in certain season lures the consumer towards stocking of goods with a provision for future use. This habit of the consumer makes him a quick buyer of goods and a slow user of the same, and thus the concept of stocking, store housing and warehousing develops.
Day after day, we are bombarded with countless advertisements promoting their products and services to us: They invade us in our homes...on our TV screens, our laptops and computers, our cell phones and our radios. They attack us outside from every possible angle—billboards, posters, flyers, t-shirts, etc. They simply tempt the prospective users for purchasing goods that they offer on sale and the user gets slipped on their lucrative offers and ends up stocking goods that they probably may never be using.
This is a serious problem with every house hold that cannot put control on their temptations. This infact is a disease that is highly contaminating in nature and spreads from one house to another, from one kitchen to another and from one office to another. This disease of stocking goods that has less utility or zero utility is referred to as Consumerism. Yes, Consumerism is a disease that is fast spreading its effects and people are often found infected with it.
Just as the word, Consumer means “one who consumes”, Consumerism refers to its opposite, “the one who gets consumed”, Yes, this is true in today’s context where the products have started consuming the consumer. That is why consumerism is referred as a disease. The basic concept of stocking goods for future purpose has changed into possessing such articles that are of no use. Availability and sales of winter fur jackets in a hot country like ours is just a befitting example.
According to Bertrand Russell, “Consumerism is the preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, which prevents us from living freely and nobly.”
Simply speaking: don’t let your possessions possess you. In a consumerist society, advertisements and commercials objectify and disempower the consumer. Even though advertising emphasizes desire and customer control and choices, it is misleading because they are actually manipulating people in order to make a sale.
Stop being bogged down by so much stuff. The less carbon footprints we leave on this earth, the better. Give your child the heritage of human values, strong character, good manners rather than materialistic things. Try spending your time and money on worthier objectives, and it is guaranteed that you will feel much, much better—you will never be plagued with the insecurity that materialism causes.
Nowadays, we have turned consumption into a necessity. Will you be one of the people who define themselves by their possessions? Or will you take a stand and put a stop to all this madness? The choice is yours.
I, would like to mention a few quotes by great philosophers and leaders who foresaw the effects of this materialistic world.
Socrates in his philosophical view point suggest that, “Contentment is natural wealth; luxury, artificial poverty.”
Thomas Carlyle quotes that, “Not what you possess but what you do with what you have, determines your true worth.”
Gandhiji as we remember gave a message with his life style, “limit your requirements and believe in Simple living and High Thinking”. His few lines are adopted by UNESCO in their book for Nature conservation that, “Nature provides for Man’s Needs and not for Man’s Greed!!!”
Jainism favours the concept of “Aprigrah” meaning, not to possess materials that you don’t need. If you have not purchased a good yourself and it has been gifted to you and such an article is not your necessity then you should find the right needy person for it and donate it.
What do we learn from this? It simply means that do not fall victim of this hazardous disease and create a diseased generation ahead. Rather prevent its contamination and create a healthy generation and a better world. It is time to take a step back and realize that excessive consumption is not delivering on its promise to provide happiness and fulfillment. Consumption is necessary, but excessive consumption is not. And life can be better lived and more enjoyed by intentionally rejecting it.
Consider this list of ten practical benefits of escaping excessive consumerism in your life:
- Lessen your debts. Use credit cards less or possibly avoid using it.
- Lessen your temptations towards possessions.
- Lessen your desire to upscale your lifestyle norms.
- Lessen the damage done to the environment. Don’t use such products.
- Lessen your need to keep up with changing trends.
- Lessen your pressure to impress with materialistic possession.
- Be more generous. Enjoy the joy of giving.
- Be more content. Be happy with that you possess.
- Empower your ability to see through the empty claims of advertisements and promotions.
- Empower your ability to greater the realization that this world is not just material.
Escaping excessive consumption is not an easy battle. If it were, it would be done more often… myself included. But it is a battle worth fighting because it robs us of life far more than we realize. True life must be found somewhere else, within one own self and not outside.
Dr. Vishal Varia