Hannah Arendt, an author and political philosopher, had warned everyone about the effects of technological advancements. She had, in a way, prophesied how humans could use them to consume the world. In recent times, we’re experiencing mass consumption and seeing the truth in Arendt’s words. Consumerism is a socio-economic behaviour of consuming beyond the needs of one’s needs.
It has resulted in the never-ending cycle of acquiring goods and services in excess. This concept began after World War II and has intensified ever since. It associates a person’s happiness with the consumption of goods and material possessions.
Researchers are divided in their opinion about consumerism. Some believe that it has created a rift between nature and humans. Others are of the view that consumerism has lifted people from misery and made their lives meaningful. Many researchers also believe that it has connected people who are associated with common consumer culture.
Despite such differences in opinion, the fact remains that consumerism continues to thrive. One of the benefits of consumerism is its ability to keep production growing. An increase in production would obviously increase the rate of employment. This leads to an increase in people’s spending power and creates a demand for goods and services.
Those in need can expect food and job security. Homelessness goes into decline as people can rent or buy homes. Competition compels the companies producing goods and services to come up with great innovations. Products and services that have never existed in the market are invented to make people’s lives better. This also ensures the survival of these companies in the highly competitive market.
The culture of people is affected by consumerism to a great extent. The darker side of this concept can be witnessed almost everywhere today. People are gradually becoming the slaves of consumption. Let’s take the example of Apple’s iPhones. These smartphones are updated periodically, which results in the creation of new phones. The introduction of ‘new’ leads to dissatisfaction with the ‘old’.
This feeling of dissatisfaction takes over the minds of those who own iPhones. A desire to own the latest iPhone makes them spend more to get the updated one. The desires of consumers are also fueled by constant advertisements and media promotions. Consumers are made to believe that owning the latest phone from Apple is necessary for their happiness.
So, consumerism ultimately becomes less about owning goods and more about a step ahead of others. Consumerism also leads to inequality. The gap between the rich and the poor widens. According to reliable sources, nearly 60% of the world’s resources were consumed by 10% of the world’s wealthiest population. This explains the fact that consumerism and globalization have resulted in unequal distribution of wealth.
The worst part of consumerism is that it has led to the exploitation of natural resources and the environment. One of the major problems the world is grappling with is waste disposal. In order to dispose of wastes, oceans are being used as giant spaces for disposal.
This clearly points out the fact that the negative side of consumerism outweighs its benefits of it. Over the years, consumerism has threatened to destroy a human being’s spiritual connection with nature. The world today needs a radical change in consumer behaviour like never before.