The consumer society we live in has altered our perceptions on so many levels. It has changed the way we see things in our everyday lives.
The consumer society wants us to believe that in order to be happy, we need to constantly buy newer and better things. Life becomes a never-ending pursuit of the attributes of success. I’m using the word ‘attributes’ because our society doesn’t really want us to strive to be truly successful or happy. It wants us to strive to look so.
But the saddest fact is that our consumer society has distorted the way we view and treat other people. And this distortion is rooted so deeply inside our minds that most people today don’t even realize that something is wrong with this mindset.
Below are the ways our consumerist mindset has messed with our perception of happiness and personal relationships.
1. We are never happy with what we have
The first basic thing we learn in today’s consumer society is that we are not good enough. Our life is not good enough. Our house is too small, our car is too old, our smartphone is too outdated and so on. We are constantly told that in order to be cool, happy and successful, we need to buy new stuff.
Hold on for a minute and think about your grandparents’ lives. Back to the times when they were young, did they have all the things you have today? Did they have so many household appliances at their place? How many clothes did they have and how often did they buy new ones? Did they have a car, did they even have a TV?
A few decades ago, life was much simpler than it is now. For this reason, people’s understanding of happiness and life satisfaction was also much simpler. Today, it’s much more difficult to feel accomplished and satisfied with all these expectations and pressure the society is putting on us. As a result, we struggle to appreciate what we have and to be grateful for all the good things in our lives.
2. We don’t fix things anymore – we just throw them away and look for the new ones
Today, it’s possible to buy literally anything. This has lead us to think that all the things we have can be easily replaced with new ones. If your phone is out of order, you can always buy a new one, right?
Sadly enough, this mindset the consumer society cultivates has had an enormous effect on our personal relationships too. Whether we are aware of it or not, we have started to treat people in our lives the same way.
When we face problems in our relationships or friendships, we often give up too easily. We decide that this person is not good enough for us and just cut them out of our life. Of course, in some instances, such as toxic and abusive relationships, it can be a wise option.
Still, we often label people as toxic or negative before we really get to know them and the hardships they may be going through. As a result, we often fail to understand those around us and tend to burn bridges too soon.
And all this has to do with the consumerist mindset – we feel like we can always replace our friend or partner with a new one. However, personal relationships just don’t work this way.
3. We need a constant social validation
The consumer society we live in thrives on comparison and competition. Who is more successful than me? Who is richer, whose relationship is happier than mine, who has a bigger house? Today, we compare ourselves with others all the time. It has become the norm. It’s one of the ways the consumer society makes people buy more stuff in order to be “better” – or, more precisely, feel better – than those around them.
For this reason, we often feel the need to show our accomplishments to others. We share the details of our private lives on social media and upload pictures of our vacations and special moments. In reality, it’s a cry for attention and validation. “Everyone, look at me, how happy I am!” “Hey, people, check out my new car/house/job, are you as successful as I am?”
But sit and think about it a little more in depth. Are all your Instagram followers genuinely interested in your life? Do all your Facebook friends care about you and want to see you happy?
This is another lie our consumer society feeds us with – that other people care to learn every little detail of our lives, so it is important that we demonstrate our success and happiness to them. However, in reality, most people just don’t care and some would even be glad to see you fail.
And most importantly, we often forget that chasing social validation will never bring us happiness. Quite the opposite, actually. It is more likely to bring us disappointment, self-esteem issues loneliness and even depression. It’s simply impossible to be good enough for everyone.
Never forget that: