Don’t buy into consumerism

Sean Kennedy
Sean Kennedy

What did you do over Thanksgiving break? Many people, like me, went camping. But whereas I slept in a yurt up in the mountains, many others slept on the ground outside big-box stores.

I guess people have different opinions about what “togetherness” entails. To me, I see something disgusting.

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Black Friday is the crown jewel of capitalism; a pinnacle of waste and consumerism at its finest. It is a psychopomp that guides us from our human nature further into the increasingly ridiculous entity that is mainstream American culture. This holiday season, shoppers will rush the market like pigs stampeding through mud. Don’t subject yourself to this culture of pomp and excess.

Consumerism harms the natural and social world.

Consumerism is hugely detrimental to society, and is the chief proponent of inequality in modern society. All the monotony we surround ourselves with — electronics, cars, clothes — are mainly made by people outside our country nowadays, and we pay them barely enough to get by to keep these goods affordable and cheap.

Our very lifestyle depends upon the subjugation of others and a permanent class of poor; it’s sickening. It perpetuates the meta-slavery that corporations have formed to dominate America. Corporations pay us just enough to get by, so that we can afford to buy their goods, which in turn are produced by people who are paid just enough to get by. The only difference is that our slaves wear suits and ties and it’s all fueled by the ridiculous amount of greed that has pulled us from our true nature.

Consumerism is completely contrary to our nature as humans. We as a people are not meant for this kind of system or culture. Nope, only a blistering amount of marketing is able to make us forget that every American is in the process of being curb-stomped by the very rich. We are animals like every other on this planet, and while we have no true “purpose” in my opinion, it is in our nature to behave similarly to other creatures: to protect our young, survive, and do the best that we can for ourselves. It is not in our nature to measure this “best” in material terms. You don’t see panda bears strolling around with shopping bags in each paw.

It could be argued, however, that consumerism has evolutionary ties. Perhaps the impulsive acquisition of material goods and knee-jerking to appeal to increasingly bizarre “fashion” trends is the modern equivalent of hoarding food or supplies. Perhaps consumption satisfies some animalistic sense of strengthening security?

At least, that’s how I try to calm myself down when I see some fat case strolling out of Corporation Mart with an overflowing cart and maxed-out credit cards. It cannot be argued, however, that consumerism is natural or healthy. It is indeed the means of disillusionment for many people that ultimately, is not effective. That’s why I believe the key is conservation. Try as you might, you can’t fill nothing with something. The experiences you have over the course of your lifetime matter a lot more than the things you can acquire.

Ultimately, the quality of your life is a mind game, and you can’t fit material goods into your head (even though the Saw franchise may try to). Those experiences, though, will fill you up and play a part in the self-determination of your quality of life. You don’t see people taking their possessions with them into the grave anymore. As much as marketers would like you to believe otherwise, possession do not matter in the grand scheme of things. That’s why it’s important to focus on only what is essential to you.

I implore you, anonymous reader, to reflect on your consumer habits. Take time to reconsider what you hold value in, and rethink your shopping decisions. Remember that advertisers are only concerned with profit, and don’t care about the plight of the average consumer. Most of what is on today’s market is not as necessary or great as its sounds, and it’s probably the result of the thankless, underpaid labor of someone abroad. Put more of your money towards experiences rather than items.

Most of all, this holiday season, do not buy into consumerism.

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Sean Kennedy is a freshman with no declared major who is totally not a socialist. Please send love, hate & mild annoyance to letters@collegian.com or @seanskenn on Twitter.