Consumerism in America Essay

Submitted By aissah
Words: 1126
Pages: 5

Nowadays there will be several people in a room, but no one is actually there. Everyone in that room would be too preoccupied with material things. Materialism is a major issue that has plagued our parents’ generation, our generation, and probably generations to come. Americans forget the meaning of life, they neglect the people around us, and they only focus on what they have and how they can get the latest updated version. This was not always the case for Americans. They have become immersed in buying things, buying complementary parts to go with it, dumping it in hazardous places, and then getting the newer version of the material that wasn’t flawed to begin with. Of course, this was not always the case. Prior to the 1920’s, Americans were not so interested in buying everything because of the social, economic, racial, cultural, and gender circumstances. However, as much of these circumstances changed, the Roaring Twenties have had a major impact on American History because it has created a culture where people put products before themselves, and don’t take into consideration other people or the environment. During the 1920’s, there were major cultural and social changes. Popular culture became a major part of life as the economy boomed. New technologies came about, and people were being paid higher wages. People had a lot of spare time so they wrote books, made movies, and songs. Also, industrialization increased. Electricity and more advanced machinery made factories more efficient and able to produce way more in a smaller time frame. Henry Ford, the maker of the automobile, came up with a new version of the assembly line. This allowed for people to be able to make radios, telephones, refrigerators, washing machines, and cars more efficiently. All the new consumer goods pushed for modernization and the economy boomed. According to the survey on Consumption Expenditures for all Consumer Units by Eva Jacobs and Stephanie Shipp, “the budget share allocated for entertainment and reading has increased as the workday and workweek became shorter and recreational activities became more accessible to more people”. The spending on expenditures from 1901 to 1921, increased by almost a thousand dollars, which was a lot considering the time period. All these cultural and technological advancements resulted in major shifts in consumption habits and income patterns of American families. People were just splurging on every new invention that came out.
Also during this time, there was major racial change. African Americans fled from the south to the northern cities. This was called the black migration. Immigrants also came into the country, and populated the cities. For the first time in history, the amount of people living in the cities outnumbered those living in rural areas. Black culture flourished with the Harlem Renaissance as they produced books of poetry, plays, and fiction. Many African Americans also began making and listening to jazz music and it became very popular amongst all people. At this time most Americans owned radios and televisions and it bought the family together to listen and watch what was going on around the world. They didn’t have the slightest idea that this would pull families apart many decades later. But this also made for a rise in the advertising industries. According to Consumerism, Nature, and the Human Spirit,
The American economy, having reached the point where its technology was capable of satisfying basic material needs, now relied on the creation of new consumer demands – on convincing people to buy goods for which they are unaware of any need until the need is forcibly brought to their attention by the mass media (Lasch, 1979, p . 72).
What advertisers did and still do today was create a false idea of the ideal consumer. When consumers bought these products, they felt as if they were fulfilling the qualities of this ideal consumer. Because during this time there was still…