Consumerism

Everyone is a materialistic person to a certain extent.

I believe that even the minimalists are materialistic in some way. They take care in making sure their furniture, clothes and aesthetics in general are minimal (or at least give off that vibe) and they carefully plan out how they want things to be like. Perhaps some even purchase aesthetically pleasing products to up their game. That’s also materialistic to a small extent.

Material goods are nothing new to our world – it’s everywhere, it’s consumerism. Aside from food that we all need to survive, we humans in first world countries live in a modern, entirely urbanised environment where advertisements reign in every corner of the street and where the Internet is sensationalised. From the material used in interior and exterior designs to the little print mugs placed on oak brown shelves, we’ve immersed ourselves in a culture of materials.

In our world, shopping is mandatory at some point in time. I’m a female, and many females live to shop – they earn money, then spend it on clothes, goods, accessories and the like. We even spend money on pedicures and manicures, hair services and makeup. Every time a new product is launched, people queue to get it.

It’s not just for shopaholics or for my friends who can somehow shop every weekend. When an iPhone is released, there are long queues overnight outside an Apple Store so that people can be one of the first to get their hands on a new, ‘hip’ product. Materialism and consumerism is all about prestige, image and being trendy.

I personally feel that many people promote it. I love watching videos of fashion vloggers and reading people’s blogs. More often than not, these people post new videos or blogposts on new clothes, makeup, accessories, and many more. They’re sponsored to talk about hair services, nail services and to promote clothes. It’s all a part of advertisement.

What about the posts or videos that happen to be not sponsored? Largely the same thing – videos about something fun they did, something new they got, something that keeps us audience interested and keeps us thinking that they’re cool, they’re trendy, and they’re like our idols.

I do admire these people. They look pretty refined every day (I feel like a mop sometimes) and they look good. It’s alright. It’s alright to be pretty, to be popular, to be a trendsetter.

But what I noticed while watching my favourite vloggers on YouTube was that they often talked about buying something new and they showed how to wear it, how to use it, or something like that. It struck me. Is this what consumerism has become? That people are now spending on a weekly basis for tons of new things that fill up their closet when they can’t wear half the things they have in a month? Frankly speaking, it’s good to have variety, but is there a point in having 100 pairs of sunglasses? Do you wear/change sunglasses every day or do you stick to a new one that you’re having a moment with for a while before you change?

It was quite appalling. I’m not a shopper because I don’t have that kind of money. I buy a few pieces when I need it and I wear it well. Yes, I do repeat the clothes I wear, and while that’s probably unacceptable for social media influencers, that’s what many common people do. Not everyone has the money to keep spending on weekly shopping sprees or to get branded goods. Here, many people wear the same piece of clothing. I see a familiar shirt, the same bag every day, the same pair of shoes every week, and the same jeans all the time. We rotate, we mix and match, but many of us don’t keep buying.

When you think about it, it’s simply not practical.

The lives of social media influencers and icons out there are different from many people. We have to remember that while they do spend more, they are also sponsored. Few people have a fully sponsored wedding, dentist treatment, plastic surgery or facial package. While it’s good to keep producing new content (it’s what consumerism and social media is all about, actually), sometimes, just sometimes, we should reflect on what it all means. 

Their message is simple. Buy. Keep buying. Buy things to improve your image. Buy things to feel good. Buy things to be a better you.

It’s okay to spend here and there. It’s fine to enjoy watching new content on the latest items and keeping updated with the latest in things. I do spend time watching and reading these things too. Occasionally, I do check out things that they recommend when I happen to be in need of these items. Or sometimes I look at it just for the fun of it. In my heart, I am most likely materialistic to some extent. We all have our desires so we probably are. It simply depends on whether we do put our thoughts into actions.

Advertisements pitch to us like that. They want us to purchase their items so that we improve ourselves. This is why we get tempted all the time.

But ultimately, all these ideals – reputation, image – don’t come from being a materialistic person. It comes from something you can’t buy with money.

It comes from within. Being a positive person is having a good character. Being popular is having good social skills. Being likeable is being humble. Being a kind person is having a heart of gold. Love is an emotion.

You can’t buy a decent character with money. You can’t get a bubbly personality for any price in the world. These things are nurtured through life experiences and through growing up. Keep in mind that you can be a wonderful character even without materializing all your dreams. You might not have that gorgeous leather bag. You might not be able to afford beauty packages to make yourself look prettier.

But you’re wonderful all the same. You’re someone with an amazingly warm personality that people enjoy spending time with. You don’t need that extra shirt in your wardrobe to be who you are.

You only need a heart.

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