Today, the argument can be made that happiness and consumerism are directly linked. It is fair to say that happiness is a relative term for different people. However, the obtaining of new and shiny things has become such a part of everyday life, that it provides happiness when people are purchasing something new, and causes sadness when no buying is taking place. For many, it seems to be a protective coating against the harsh realities of everyday stresses from a job, or family life.
In fact, the buying frenzy of modern life has become so prevalent, and people have collected so much material, that self storage facilities are becoming one of the most successful and growing retail businesses in America. This is because the average person has purchased so much merchandise that they do not need that their homes and garages can no longer hold the contents of their lives. People would rather go through the time, trouble and expense of maintaining a self storage locker in a dedicated facility or warehouse of some sort.
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Much of this “stuff” will never see the light of day again, but it serves as a security blanket for those who feel that consumerism validates them and makes them happy. Therefore, the link between consumerism and happiness, at least for some people, is established. Consumerism has grown to contribute to pop culture, and pop culture has made significant contributions to consumerism as well. Regarding pop culture, Americans as a whole place a tremendous value on material goods and the obtaining of them.
Much as the ancient peoples placed a value on crops or spices, we today judge each other, and expect to be treated in a better way, based upon the sheer volume of tangible items that we have accumulated. When watching television, the people who seem to enjoy the biggest acclaim are not always the most talented or the best looking, but are often those who have the most material possessions.
As an example, Donald Trump is not exceptionally good looking or talented; granted, he is a skillful businessman, but that is not what gives him the fame that he has achieved in he mainstream, but rather he has gained the status of a pop culture icon. Admittedly, the priceless works of art, homes, helicopters and other things he buys are out of the reach of the average person. He has taken consumerism to a new level, and has gained wide acclaim as a result of it. Gone are the days when the fastest runner, the best speller or the most talented golfer were the icons of the culture. Today, those with the biggest and most expensive toys win, or so it seems.
In the modern society, the only time that talented athletes are revered is when they are seen in commercials using the latest cellular telephone or smiling on a box of sugar coated cereal. There is much that can be said about happiness as an element of pop culture as it relates to consumerism. Within the dollar-driven world of modern America, happiness is often measured by the size of the vehicle in one’s driveway, or the memory that their I-Pod contains.
Happiness is a commodity that seems to be able to be bought as an accessory with every item that is piled into the home of people from coast to coast. The instant gratification that comes with material possessions, and the fact that credit cards make instant gratification through ownership possible, makes the pursuit of happiness essentially a financial transaction at the local mall. As people become more and more scattered due to work and family commitments, things fill the emptiness within the soul and provide what we perceive to be happiness.
In this paper, there has been an attempt to prove just how caught up the modern world has become with consumerism. We worship pop culture figures who collect and stockpile expensive items beyond our wildest dreams, and not those who truly make a difference on life. As a final thought, every effort should be made to make sure that we all do not become materialistic buying machines but rather look into our own hearts and learn to better our lives through the art of human interaction.