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Consumer America

By Angela Taylor – Contributor

Just a few days ago I had the unpleasant task of making good on a threat I had made to my 3-year-old son. I had sworn with the fume only a mother can generate that I would throw away every last toy in his bedroom if we had one more problem with him picking them up.
Well as you can probably guess, the attention span of a toddler doesn’t retain this kind of threat for very long and he soon forgot about my rant. I sadly gathered up each toy to be “thrown away” (actually to be set out on the back breezeway until the lesson had been learned). Upon finishing, I was staggered to discover that I had packed two giant garbage bags and a toy box!
So I had to ask myself “What does a three-year-old need with so many toys?” And furthermore, “is this where it all starts?”
As I lugged the giant trash bags out the back door I was struck with a vision of my little one at 18, a college freshman with $14,000 in credit card debt, afraid to pick up the phone for fear of collection calls.
This all begs the question, are we really to blame for our overspending and living above our means, or are we just victims of the consumerism we were born into?
According to Wikipedia, consumerism is defined as “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.”
Oftentimes young people fail to realize the ultimate effect that living above your means can have. We are bombarded day in and day out with advertisements that you would have to be Helen Keller to avoid. What’s one human being against a $6 billion dollar industry anyway? Small potatoes that’s what.
Young adults find themselves going to unimaginable lengths to keep up with their peers, dropping out of school because their friends who work full-time make more money, amassing tons of credit cards from companies who know very well the cardholder is unlikely to be able to pay— but hey, the real money is in late fees anyway. This temporary happiness is soon dashed when the young adult has to fight an uphill battle to pay off debt or restore good credit often stumbling into traps like payday loans or car title pawns on the way.
As long as the newest smart phone is the status symbol of the moment, young America doesn’t stand a chance. This has become our society as we know it. It might be time for us to take a stand and try to find happiness within ourselves, our friends and family and other non-mass produced things around us, to combat the demon of materialism.

About Victoria Song

Business Major at GPC, Dunwoody.

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