Thoughts concerning consumerism

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University of Cologne 2009
Sebastian B.


Travelling around, wearing trendy clothes, eating what you feel like having today, choosing an individual lifestyle, organising free-time are attractive opportunities given in consumerist societies. These opportunities are connected with globalization; money enables people regardless to their social background to take advantage ofthem. Beside these obviously pleasant sides of consumerism, several problems can be identified connected with it.

These problems lead to the main question of this essay. Does consumerism fit to the needs of human-beings? Or, does contentedness exist the more among individuals in societies the more consumerism is developed? The focus will be put on money as a medium to be independent and toupgrade his life by fulfilling dreams. Independency enables flexibility. Dreams as something abstract have to become concrete by possibilities or opportunities offered on the market enabling high-standard-living. Luxury and consuming are often regarded as factors for contentedness. The chances to participate into this system seems to be directly connected with the value of life of human beings.Contentedness is a multidimensional quality of an individual or a society which cannot be narrowed to economic criteria. Contentedness can be seen according to consumerist societies as a possible result of a learning process in which an individual or society obtains the ability to resist temptations and to save certain values. The problem is that money entices and breaks up values which areoften embedded in traditions. Education becomes crucial to be able to keep the balance in his life or in a society.

In order to make clear what is meant by a contentedness as a multidimensional quality in the light of the value of life of human-beings and what can be understood by education, some natural factors which evoke contentedness and some basic preconditions which are necessary forlife are pointed out first. Then, some values which stabilise a society are mentioned. Contentedness is evoked by communication among people, friendships which offer social support, common grounds to share experiences, tolerance to try out new things, honesty to learn from each other and laughing to share moments together. To survive and, furthermore, to live comfortably, one needs diet to stayhealthy, transportation to be spatially more flexible, a dormitory which can be restricted to a single room. In addition, information to get a guideline for decision-making. As it can bee seen, all these factors are whether free or cost just a moderate amount of money. Quality of life is not necessarily connected with luxury and excessive consuming. The value of life of human beings depends notnecessarily on consuming. Life can be enriched, if individuals realise that there are available more media than just money: creativity, love, solidarity and formation. Education can be regarded as
support to keep certain values as solidarity and expression of opinions in a society and to learn that elementary factors for contentedness are principally unlimited available.

This diversity ofelements which contribute to the quality contentedness are often transformed by the marketing of industry. As a consequence, money becomes necessary to satisfy these transformed needs: Mobile phones and internet chats instead of vis-à-vis communication. Internet personal ads that organise their members in certain groups of interest. However, common grounds can be developed much easier by genuinefriendships than by friendships based on certain interests. Foods which serve more as delights than as food. Cars with particular equipment and features which do not only serve for transportation.

Stressing the point ‘transformation of the genius needs’ mentioned in the previous paragraph, it becomes important to point out this relation of consumerism and the needs of human beings which, when...
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