Consumerism- “the belief that it is good for people to spend a lot of money on goods and services.” This involves buying much more than you need.
Materialism- “a way of thinking that gives too much importance to material possessions rather than to spiritual or intellectual things.”
Commercialism- “inappropriate emphasis on profit” in doing business.
Furthermore, these concepts have driven demand to new levels. Commercialism has led companies to use branding and advertising to create an impression that you need more in order to “keep up with the Joneses,” meaning that you need to spend more and own more in order to be accepted into society. Why do they do this? FOR PROFIT! So that they can have more for themselves. Brands have become a significant measure of how “successful” we are, a way in which we demonstrate our “value” to others. Companies are using psychology to brainwashing you into thinking you need and should have more of their goods and services, usually beyond your means.
This is further promoted by such TV shows as MTV CRIBS. A show I love to hate!
Watch this short MTV Cribs clip that shows how Master P, the Hip Hop Rapper and Mogul was completely consumed by consumerism and materialism. At the time of the video Master P was worth $600 million.
Consider the following questions when watching the video:
1- Do you believe that Master P is excessive in his consumption? or should he have the right to consume what he wants? Explain.
2- What is it that has driven Master P to consume the way he does? Explain.
After watching the video read the following article. What happened to Master P? Why. What could you take away from Master P’s experience?
If you think Master P is the only celebrity to have a problem controlling his consumption, you are wrong!! Celebrities with income problems is a regular occurrence. If you are intrigued to know more watch the 30 For 30 ESPN Special called “BROKE,” that you can find at the bottom of this page. It is all about how NBA and NFL Athletes cannot control their levels of consumption, due to the fact that they feel obligated to consume more than others.
This type of phenomenon obviously has implications. It now guides our decision making process, it has lead us to believe that we are entitled to such consumption, it has eroded traditional relationships, promotes greed and has had harmful effects on our environment, as we consume much more than we actually need.
Dr. Warren Hall, at the Institute of Behavior Science believes that “the human race has become like a cancer engulfing our planet.” This same idea is further reinforced in the film, The Matrix. (If you haven’t seen THE MATRIX, you are missing out. It is one of my favorite film of all time!) We have become a species that is eating our planet to death. Our resources are dwindling at a record pace, while our population has grown to record highs….over 7 billion people!
So how did things end up the way they did? It was really the advent of marketing, advertising and branding that has altered our psyches as consumers. Buying more is now considered better. We have never before consumed on a scale such as this. Ask yourself do you really need a change of clothes for everyday of the month? and in many cases we have more than that. The list goes on and on as to what we consume yet do not “need”……not to mention the fact that most of what we own is disposable, and how this then impacts our planet.
We also see many people on this planet not having the ability to consume. Do they have the right to consume at the levels the “Developed World” consumes at? Of course! What if they had incomes that allowed them to consume just like the rest of us? Does the Earth have the carrying capacity for us to all consume like this? and if the population grows to 9 million in 2050 as predicted, then what?
To see just how we our population has ended up on this consumption binge, check out the documentary below, Consumed: Inside the Belly of the Beast.
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