Is the allure of consumerism a fad that interests your mind, even maybe subconsciously? In any sector from the new clothes displayed in our favorite stores, to a weight loss pill Kim Kardashian swears by. It could be the new technical gadgets Apple kindly demands we have just GOT to have for a slew of ‘necessary’ reasons, or that trendy recipe for how to make the best Chicken Marsala you’ve ever freakin’ ate.
What if I told you that you probably are addicted to these things subconsciously? Many of us find ourselves in the same repetitive streak as the weeks pass by, a streak that includes buying things to make you happier and eating what everyone else is eating because you’re at a loss for an alternative. Thinking this applies to you? No worries, it’s not entirely your fault. There is science to back up why we’ve fallen ever so deeply into a society of loving things, and using people instead of the other way around.
Let’s commence with the absurd importance many of us place within the space we, on average, spend 9 hours a day. There is no denying how truly obsessive we have become with social media and our mobile devices, just look around you. It seems like everyone in a restaurant, on public transit, or simply just walking down a city street is on their phone or laptop. This in some ways is our fault, because we have little to no self control fighting the urge to check who liked your picture. Yet, studies have found that due to the similar brain chemicals activated and white matter created with constant social media usage, our minds are essentially addicted to these internet platforms in a very real way. Changes in our brains that are attributed to only excessively using social media are the same types of changes that arise during use of alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, meth, and ketamine. So yeah, you’re hooked.
But it isn’t the chemically addictive properties alone social media poses within the mind, it is also the long lasting emotional affects it has on us as well. The lack of self reflection social media constitutes is exponential because we aren’t really self reflecting at all, we are actually being completely non-reflective. Always seeking for approval, likes, thumbs ups, “friend” requests and editing our photos to borderline not resembling our real skin, eyes or true self at all. There are many doors social media presents to us that all seem quite appealing, but even then, all reward with no reflection is a dangerous path to lead. If we are constantly being non-reflective that would then correlate to being non-intellectual. If we do not obtain the simple power of considering our own thoughts intellectually, how are we to make smart decisions and considerate choices toward others and essentially, ourselves?
While having the capacity to make considerate choices for ourselves and others, will then coincide with what we are buying. Before I dive into this rabbit-hole, let me first begin by saying I am no where near perfect and the many things I’m about to touch on need to be worked on by my end as well. The important part is having the knowledge to make the right, or wrong preference.
Stuff, we’ve all got it, lots of it. Now think about your peace of mind, we may not have it, maybe none at all. Is there an association between both entities? Having peace of mind, and having a ton of shit? Actually, science proved that one too in regard to the salaries we make. A longitudinal study from an economist from Case Western University found that after about $75,000 annually peoples happiness levels actually begin to recede quite substantially as their income increases. Why is this? I thought having everything you could possibly have your hands on was the American Dream? It has to do with the amount of worth something applies into your life. If you even Google search for synonyms of the word “valuable”, words like “high-priced” and “expensive” come up. Is this our interpretation of value now? Is this why we find ourselves amongst a sea of things we saw in commercials that actually add nothing considerable to our life’s worth?
I can reflect on the times in my life where I had the most ever. When my dresser drawers were bursting with clothes, and cabinets in every room of my home so saturated with gadgets that I never needed to go to a store again in my life. But, instead of realizing that, I still wanted more. I wanted the things that ‘cooler’ individuals had that I didn’t, and then when I finally got that thing, they had something new, something better. This is a never ending cycle we must come to terms with, and it isn’t fueled just by us and our egos. The media and corporate consumerism culture we have been born into has a huge part in this. The government and our lovely ‘free market’ will give your mind the inclination that you need all these things when in reality you need a total of, none of it. Americans in particular have become so preposterously obsessive with consuming every bit advertised to them, people have suffered physical injuries and even met their death during Black Friday shopping events. Excuse me!!!! If you refuse to pay any attention to the grave atrocities affecting humans in Yemen, Libya, and Venezuela, at LEAST point your attention in the direction of people literally dying over things that serve no value in their lives in America.
As humans, we need security- shelter, food and water- to fuel our bodies, and some form of clothing to not only protect ourselves but to go about daily life without getting arrested for public indecency. Yes, that seems like a slightly vacuous approach to the things we need. I mean, I have a lot more than that, and I’m sure you do too. But, right now in my life I have the least amount of crap I’ve ever owned and I’ve never felt freer. After each move back home from the distant places I have lived in this past year, my suitcase seems to condense more and more. Each time I unpack, I realize that I maybe didn’t even wear that once, or never even remembered I had brought this. Being mindful of each thing I buy and bring places for it’s practical application in my life has brought me to a place where just being conscious of my breath in meditation is enough for me. My soul is fulfilled.
To conclude, I will only merely apply some insight into the food we are also unconsciously putting into our bodies, and no this is not vegan fear mongering. The advantageous and worthwhile accredited information about the food we are eating and where it’s sources are derived is so extensive. You haven’t seen it? No wonder. Doing the right thing never made any money in this country, if you haven’t noticed who is sitting in our White House… But, it is there just look a little deeper. With the thoughtful implementation of conscious decisions between social media, your peace of mind, salary and minimalism, don’t you think the food you consume daily shouldn’t be a mystery? In fact, I am sure as the nose on my face if you did take the initiative to do some research you would make a decision over night to change your diet. That is, if you care about your health, animals well being, and the precarious state of our globe. The things you eat three meals a day, can be truly shedding years off of your life and our planet’s each time you lift the fork to your mouth. Be mindful.
In retrospect, these are some categories that keep me awake at night. They frighten me, anger me, but also enlighten me. It seems at this point in my existence any and all knowledge I can absorb is beneficial. The way our world has shifted it’s recognition of importance away from valuing the lives and health of organisms of all species, from plants all the way to humans is making it’s statement. The statement of true peril and demise, the crimes being committed on our earth to illusorily benefit the consumer when in reality is only benefitting the wallets in the pockets at the top is wrong. We have been driven to use people to get to where we want, to then in turn buy the commodities we desire, this then becomes us loving paraphernalia more than each other, our home on mother earth, and even our bodies and mental health.
“Let our politicians condescend to lay aside their calculations for a moment, to reflect on these examples; let them learn for once that money, though it can buy everything else cannot buy morals”- The Social Construct and Discourses, Jean Jacques Rousseau 1762.
With love and care, T xx