Is Consumerism Embedded in American Society Essay

Submitted By sumc2015
Words: 1049
Pages: 5

Is Consumerism Embedded in American Society? Is happiness the motive behind the spending habit of Americans? Or do we simply spend on impulse and reap the consequences when our credit cards max out and we are forced to file bankruptcy? Cash is no longer the currency but rather plastic cards, easy to access, harder to lose, and made to seem entirely efficient. The motives behind a person’s actions can never be determined however, there are substantial amounts of evidence that we spend borrowed money on things we don’t need. Advertisement and social culture are heavily influential in the decisions of Americans today especially younger generations. Research suggests that there has been a shift in the direction of credit card advertisements from adults to young adults in their teens. Why this group? This age group has embraced the idea of debt as a necessity for a good quality life. Money is more personal when it can be held in your hand, but the lightweight plastic that carries your hard earned money is so easily swiped. The people of America use credit as an alternative way to pay for things. This trend has shown to not only exist within the society but in government purchases as well. Not only does oblivion drive the outrageous spending by people but also lack of concern. The only concern of the average credit card holder is making the monthly minimum payment.
Margaret Pressler of the Washington Post states, “ [O]n top of those low- interest loans, young adults increasingly leave school with substantial credit card debt” (Pressler 2). The pressure put on young adults by “society” has grown rapidly and the desire to keep up with the Jones’s leads people to buy simply to be noticed. The amount of self-control exhibited by credit card holders today is little to none. Marketing experts are brought in by massive corporations to make enticing commercials and advertisements to sway buyer’s habits whether it be on the television, internet or newspaper. As stated in the article Swimming in a Sea of Debt the problem with being so young and in debt is that “ [Y]our maxed out on your debt, you have nowhere to run, no savings, not additional capacity to borrow and you’re cooked” (2).
Why spend when you don’t have it? There are many factors that influence people buying decisions a two of which include; the progression of societal trends and the expectation of happiness. The advertisements on television and other forms of media are constant and continually in the minds of consumers. The pressure of an ever changing world causes people to not think when their buying the next best item, because of happiness they think it will bring them.
On the other side of Consumerism comes the idea of materialism. Materialism stems from having so much abundance and little appreciation for the things you do own. The enthusiasm to buy things comes from the desire for more material goods to heighten your societal status.”Sure, we spend a lot of money on tacky vulgar stuff. But so what? We spend a lot of money on culture, hospitals, and philanthropy, too” (Wente 2). She makes a great point here, however, culture, hospitals, and philanthropy all are wonderful assets to society put in place to help communities thrive and countries prosper. So, to compare the vulgar and unnecessary things many spend their money on to philanthropy is quite audacious.
She goes on to say that consumerism brought about the; [T]he steam engine, the automatic textile loom. the assembly line, the symphony orchestra, the railway, the corporation, abolitionism, the steam printing press, cheap paper, wide literacy, cheap steel, cheap plate glass, the modern university, the modern newspaper, clean water, reinforced concrete, the women’s movement, the electric light, the elevator, the automobile, petroleum, vacations in Yellowstone, plastics, half a million new English-language books a year, hybrid corn, penicillin, the airplane, clean urban air, civil rights, open-