Hyper-Consumerism has often been called the disease of modern society – it’s widespread, and proven to be true, belief that today’s society is a spending – oriented one. However, the belief that previous generations were far more modest and simple than we are is just a myth. The trend of having more and more was always present. Remember kingdoms and dukedoms. Remember kings and queens, their jewellery, land, slaves … Wasn’t that a huge competition and a display of possessions?
When did we become a Hyper-Consuming society?
Consumer society, as a spending-oriented one, existed always, but the form and intensity of the urge to buy and spend has changed over time.
The change in attitude towards consumption, buying, selling and spending has many causes and can be observed from different perspectives. The fact that we are living in a hyper-consumerism era is self-evident and a matter that we all agree on. How it all began? When did we start equalising happiness with the number of houses, cars, dresses? What is it that urges us to buy so much?
What is evident is the fact that the period after World War II is the one in which some great changes started taking place in the world economy. Already with the Industrial Revolution, mass production took place. Therefore it created the need for informing consumers on benefits of new and numerous products. It manifested itself through a communication known as advertising. The main goal of advertising was to persuade consumers that they really needed all kinds of gadgets.
In the post-war period, when things started coming back to normal, people felt the need to equip themselves with all that was possible to purchase. Far more important than this was the fact that people started becoming economically powerful enough to buy. This is where advertising agencies come into picture. This is how we became flooded with a wide array of products and even wider array of advertisements. And this is how we forgot what we really need, even during the holidays such as Halloween and Christmas.
The consequences of Hyper-Consumerism
It is important to mention the consequences of the phenomenon, what we are faced with everyday and it is certain that consumerism affects every one of us. Are we aware of the influence is has or not? On a very basic level, it affects the economy of our own households. More things require more assets. More assets require more work. Too much work makes us frustrated and alienated from friends and family.
And even from the rest of the society, in more general terms. It changes the way we perceive true values in life by shifting the attention from genuine and real values. Consumption of these material possessions is an individual problem, people are judged on how well they are doing by owning expensive things.
People identify with the brands of clothes they wear and with the celebrities who advertise it, forgetting that the point is in being original and natural, in creating your own style. Our main goal should be to be free rather than becoming slave to things and trends.
‘Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.’
Every new day brings new trends in fashion, food, supplies, houses, cars etc. Are we really going to fall in all these traps and behave like the society wants us to behave, or can we learn on how to control our ‘need’ to spend too much money? It’s up to you..
The only real benefit of consumerism is to improve the economy.
The rise of consumerism has had a detrimental impact on the planet. For example, clothes and apparel from the fashion and textiles industries are made using extensive amounts of water, energy, chemicals and raw materials , all of which place heavy demands on Earth’s natural resources. As awareness on the impact that consumerism has on the environment grows, many companies have embarked on ways to decrease their carbon footprint and use of natural resources. Many of these moves have been prompted by conscious consumers who look for goods that do not cause harm to the environment during their making.
Does it make you unhappy? Does it have a huge and negative effect on your bank account?
Think about what you are buying and why – Mindless consumption always turns into excessive consumption.
And excess consumption results in more stress, more burden, more pressure to impress, more envy, less financial freedom, less generosity and less contentment.
It is time to rethink our spending habits even if you don’t think it’s a problem, we can all make improvements – Rediscover thoughtfulness and intentionality in our purchases, and remind ourselves that happiness is not on sale! Buying more is not the solution. We were made for greater pursuits than material possessions.
1. Stop and reevaluate. Are you finding the time, money, and energy for the things that matter most? Have your possessions become a burden on your life in any way? Slow down long enough to honestly evaluate the whole picture: your income, your mortgage, your car payment, your spending habits, your day-to-day pursuits. Unsubscribe from companies offering discounts and sending you the latest trends, unfollow people or companies on Instagram that are encouraging you to buy things or make you feel you need things.
2. Stop copying other people. Just because your friends or people you following on social media are chasing a certain style of life does not mean you need to as well. Your life is too unique to live like everyone else. And if you think you’ll be happier by following all the latest trends in society, you are wrong. Just ask anybody who has stopped.
3. Understand your weaknesses. Recognise your trigger points. Are there certain stops that prompt unnecessary purchases in your life? Are there products, addictions, or pricing patterns (clearance sales) that prompt an automatic response from you? Maybe there are specific emotions (sadness, loneliness, grief) that give rise to mindless consumption. Solutions can be found by simply recognising the problem.
4. Look deep into your motivations. Advertisers play on our motivations by appealing to our desires in subtle ways. Advertisements are no longer based on communicating facts about a product. Instead, they promise adventure, reputation, esteem, joy and fulfillment. What inner-motivations are subconsciously guiding your purchases?
5. Seek contribution with your life and usefulness in your purchases. To live is to consume. As contributing members of society, we are going to work and earn and purchase and consume. But we are more than consumers, we are contributors. Our presence on this earth ought to bring value to the people around us. Purchase only what you need to more effectively accomplish your unique role in this world—everything else is only a distraction. Just because you can buy something doesn’t mean you should.
6. Count the hidden cost of each purchase. Too often, when we purchase an item, we only look at the sticker price. But this is rarely the full cost. Our purchases always cost more. They require our time, energy, and focus (cleaning, organising, maintaining, fixing, replacing, removing). They prompt worry, stress, and attachment.
7. Test your limits. Experiment with a no-shopping challenge. You set the terms—even the world’s biggest shopper can find one experiment to test their boundaries. Go 30 days with no consumer purchases or make a note of things you want but don’t buy them straight away. You set the specific challenge based on your needs. You will break the cycle of shopping in the short-term and lay the groundwork for greater victory in the long-term.
8. Give more things away. Your life will feel lighter and you will be reminded shopping is not the answer.
9. Do more of what makes you happy. Your possessions are not making you happy. Once our basic needs have been met, the happiness found in consumerism is fleeting at best. Instead, find what it is that truly makes you happy and do more of it.