Consumerism: The Insatiable Thirst for More!

Graphic by M. Shanmuga

How did an ordinary person get carried away by the waves of emotions created by capitalism which turn him into a consumer?

Men have always been consuming according to their needs. But the industrial revolution of 20th century America had a colossal impact on our desires to consume. With the change in the economic structure, and the coming of capitalism coupled with democracy, the situation of the poor had improved to a large extent. They had more disposable income in their hands. Along with this, the emergence of the middle class has further fueled the flames of consumerism. Opulence, display, and extravagance started to expand beyond the super-rich. And companies were more excited about their ever-increasing new products. With this, however, the debate about its true nature has also come to play. There are supporters and opponents, both shouting at the top of their lungs to justify their claims. Opponents present a dystopian vision of a consuming world. They think that:
Instead of spending money on big brands’ products, help the poor across the world. Stop buying unnecessary things, buy local, and support local manufacturing. Consumption is making poverty, inequality and the environmental nexus accelerate extremely fast. They think conscious consumerism should be there. The concept of consumerism is economically unsustainable.

Now on the other hand, big businesses, MNCs, and the corporate world are constantly falling in love with consumerism and believe that people have the right to satisfy their every need and they are making the lives of people easy in this fast-paced world. Today, everything is just a click away, from food to clothes. This has comforted the lives of people. Advocates of consumerism believe:
More consumerism means more production, resulting in a big cake of profit to share with everyone. This is a win-win situation. (Neo- Taylorism). They argue that it enhances creativity and innovation. It provides confidence to big MNCs to invest big in research and development.
The cost per unit won’t go down if there is no consumerism. And it may lead to inflation. Of course, it serves the value of a liberal society and liberty is the core of it. So now the ball is in your court to decide where it has to go!

However, we are leaving here some of the suggestions to make consumerism more socially sympathetic and socioeconomically equitable. We need to face both the pros and cons of consumerism and find a balanced approach. The world needs to find ways and means to protect and conserve the resource for future generations. Also, the transition to a sustainable society will need a major modification in societal organizations, government institutions, and citizenry activities of the world. Especially, those organizations require to deal with the issue of consumerism, environmental quality, and ecological sustainability.

Ultimately, it can be concluded that to handle these issues of consumerism, education can be a tool for transforming excessive consumption, culture, and the behaviors of the world.

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