As a society, America is now fundamentally about consumption. For an average American, nothing is more important than things. We surround ourselves with mementos from every moment—pivotal or not—of our lives. Nearly all of our national problems are due to this addiction (environmental destruction for more shopping centers, want of bigger houses, and for the materials we think we require; “over qualification” for jobs because people are earning higher degrees to make more money to buy more things; obesity, eating disorder, depression, and anxiety disorder statistics the highest it’s ever been, and growing; class gap growing due to a less giving upper class—just to name a few). So if these problems are so tangible, why do we continue the acts that are causing the problems? We, in our society, are addicted to stuff, feel validated by having the latest inventions and most sophisticated technology, feel worthless when we don’t, and think that bigger is better with nearly everything, from homes to malls to meals. I call this intense feeling “farciophilia”, which means unnatural attraction to things. For our consideration, it will not only mean attraction to things, but also attraction to money, titles and fame, and new things. Farciophilia describes not exactly an attraction, but more so an addiction.
Judging by the amount of studies that have been conducted regarding the growing list of problems we, America, and countries with similar societies, have recognized that there is a problem. Addictions aren’t easy to get rid of, but why isn’t society getting anywhere further than admitting there is a problem? People feel dissatisfaction in their lives, and feel that the answer is to seek out more money, symbols of money (nice car, big house, important titles, brand name clothes, etc.) and power. This reaction isn’t the peoples’ fault; having been raised in a society of farciophiliacs, this inclination is completely natural, and it almost seems unintuitive to seek out something different.
Companies advertise their products in whatever way they feel will present to the public that this product will bring satisfaction or power. By using an attractive person who says they use/eat/drive/wear/bathe in the company’s product, the advertisement creates an idea that the viewer can be as happy or powerful as the spokesperson. This strategy is a means to the advertisers’ ends—to get the audience to buy their product. The goals of advertisements is to get the audience to think that buying their thing will bring happiness—if they don’t, customers won’t buy their products! But they know as well as anybody who has done any retail therapy that this “happiness” fades FAST, and that is all the more beneficial to the companies, because then the customer will want more of this “happiness”, and will come back to buy more. This farciophilia, this addiction to always having something new and better, is a result that companies are aiming for, and even though the negative results are increasing recently, the concept of manipulating the public is nearly a century old. In 1915, Edward Bernays took a job as a tour director for a Russian ballet company. He, like most of America, claimed no interest in ballet, but knew how to mold the public’s view on nearly anything by using his uncle (Sigmund Freud)’s ideas. Bernays used popular magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, and Vogue to spread excitement, with articles persuading readers to buy products inspired by the color and design of the sets and costumes. He was able to create such an interest in ballet that stores sold out of these products, the ballet sold out before their opening show, and crowds of people awaited the ballet company’s arrival to America at the docks in New York. By creating such strong interest for the ballet from next to nothing, Bernays created a type of consumerism in America that has been cultivated into today’s