Every day individuals are exposed to commercials, billboards, and many other different forms of advertisements. We have become a society that buys things that we don’t need, and most of them become a pile of clutter. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spends $1,800 every year solely on clothes.1 This statistic shows how Americans try to make their lives fulfilling though abject consumerism. The new American dream is built on this materialism; the more possessions you have equates to the higher your social status is in society. We have become a society that is chasing a lifestyle of luxury and consumption, and yet are never satisfied; and, this lack of satisfaction derives from people defining their worth and happiness based on their material properties instead of their inherent worth as a human being.
We try to use material possessions to make our lives full by buying the latest phones, computer, or clothes. People use these material possessions to show their socio-economic status and how they are better than others. Competition, jealousy, and grief arise from putting too much value on material possessions. Some of us have even become in debt trying to portray an illusion that we are richer than others. Dichotomies of class have affected the more impoverished communities in trying to achieve the American dream, which is merely an illusion. It has come to the point where their possessions start to own them because of the accumulation of debt that so often accompanies the American lifestyle of consumerism. Similar to how Ray explained that once one values material possessions, they then attach labels to it to make it significant, and if those possessions were to vanish, one would be in despair. When people are more mindful, they would recognize how ’emptiness’ is an antidote to materialistic desires. For instance, people will have less and less control over you if you do not concede to the labels they seek to place on you.
1 CONSUMER EXPENDITURES 2016,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 29, 2017, accessed December 9, 2017, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/cesan.nr0.htm.