It occurred to me the other day that consumerism has reached a level of socially ingrained fanaticism. This isn’t by accident, marketers have gotten us here on purpose. For many of us or those we know, we simply lust after ______ consumer good. It pervades our country, politics, social interactions, and economics.
Here is the definition of consumerism:
A social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts.
The entire premise of consumerism is that we must consume, but more importantly we must do so at a constantly growing rate. This seems to be at odds in a finite world, but many people don’t concern themselves with it. I wanted to break down this word a bit more, because the ending -ism struck me as interesting, it was something I never considered before really, what does -ism really mean?
Looking up the definition of the ending -ism I found these four possible meanings:
- a political belief or religion based on a particular principle or the ideas
- the action or process of doing something
- illness caused by too much of something
- the practice of treating people unfairly because of something
If you think about political issues or stances on religion you will quick notice they are really contentious issues. They often define a line which many fight over. You find that many people choose friends, business partners, and other large decisions on the parameters of their political and religious stances. One of the largest lines is to consume or not. Think about it, essentially there is a hard line drawn that many don’t cross, but those who do are subject to great social pressure! Essentially society discriminates against those who don’t consume. Don’t buy lots of clothes, you don’t get a job or a date. Don’t feel the need to buy things when what you have is working just fine or even, you don’t want a huge house; you are seen as cheap, lazy, poor, etc.
I had to simply laugh when I looked at the third bullet point, an illness cause by too much of something, the irony of that when considering consumerism is astounding. What if we really could get people to treat this behavior like a disease?
It certainly is interesting the implication of this word, how it has such a tight hold on us and defends itself through strong social pressures.