Materialism: The New American Value

December 5, 2011
By Gervvv BRONZE, Auburn, New York
Gervvv BRONZE, Auburn, New York
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

In America today, materialism is extremely evident in our culture. While most individuals ignore this and claim materialism isn’t evident, this is completely untrue. Materialism is still an important value in American culture. In “Values Americans Live By” by L. Robert Kohls, he states that foreigners generally consider Americans much more materialistic than they are likely to consider themselves. Americans are more likely to believe that their material objects are more the fruits of their labor; a reward for their hard work. Materialism means that a person values and collects more material objects than most people would ever dream of owning. It also means that they give higher priority to obtaining, maintaining, and protecting their material objects than they do in developing and enjoying interpersonal relationships . This value of materialism is having a negative effect on our culture. Materialism is the leading cause of unhappiness, it aids bullying in children, and causes depression in some people in our nation
In the United States, you may find a family who can’t afford food, can barely make rent each month, and can’t afford health insurance for any members of their family. However, if you walk into their apartment which they can barely afford in the first place, you may find a big-screen TV, a brand new car, and brand-name toys for their children. This family, who is behind on all their payments still may have the latest iPhone. Why are we doing this to ourselves? We are now in a national shopping spree which will last our whole lives. Americans are now working overtime in a world where people work to earn money just to make up late payments, or add to the bills that are already piled up on their tables. These days, parents can’t bear to see their child unhappy, so they buy them whatever their child wants. This is the reason why many families can’t pay their bills. It’s an endless cycle, an adult buys an expensive item and can’t afford it to pay for it, interest builds up and they are consumed in debt.
Today, cyber-bullying and bullying in schools is increasing. The reason for this is the growing materialism in children in our society. Parents are teaching their children that people from lower-income homes who are without nice things, are inferior to themselves. They are being taught that poorer families are not people you want to associate yourself with. What happened to the teaching that you should judge a person on their character, not the things they own? Children are learning this new “life lesson” and applying it to their lives at school. Parents who are generally less emotionally supportive have children who are more materialistic. These children tend to have lower self-esteem which is also directly related to having less supportive friends. ‘Supportive friends’ however, are necessary for children in avoiding being bullied or being bullies themselves. Children learn by watching their parents, which means that if they watch their parents buying goods all the time, or treating others poorly, they will in turn do the same themselves. Bullying is the leading cause of adolescent suicide in this country. Materialism is the leading cause of bullying, so therefore, materialism is an issue in the United Sates today.
Michael Hoffman, in an interesting new article in The Japan Times Online, describes danshari, a lifestyle idea that is the new simple life idea. The three elements to this are: voluntary simplicity, wabi sabi, and true wealth. Voluntary simplicity focuses on the development of wisdom and the thinking through actions to realize what really matters. Wabi Sabi is an integral part of Japanese culture. It appreciates and accepts complexity even as it values simplicity, tranquility, and naturalness. True Wealth, as described by this idea of danshari is attained through nonfinancial assets. By using this Japanese idea which promotes unselfish ideas, materialism may cease to be such a negative value in this country.
Materialism is extremely evident in the United States today. People are losing focus of what is really important and spending in excess to have items that they believe they need. It is causing people in our country to quickly to become bankrupt and buy things that they really don’t need in order to live. Citizens are putting the importance of having the new electronic over paying their bills or buying food. Parents are passing down this idea of materialism to their children, which in turn is causing the rate of bullying to increase. However, materialism may not completely take over our society. By using the Japanese idea of danshari, we may once again become a selfless nation with our priorities in the right place.

The author's comments:
The piece was an English assignment that was assigned to me a few weeks ago. The task was to read an article by Robert Kohls that talked about the things that Americans value today. I chose the value of materialism and how it negatively effects our society.

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This article has 2 comments.

Mrsaad27 said...
on May. 13 2016 at 2:25 am
Right on the mark!

Mrsaad27 said...
on May. 13 2016 at 2:25 am
Right on the mark!

values said...
on Sep. 29 2014 at 4:03 pm
i think this text is very important and true

on Sep. 16 2014 at 5:34 pm
I think this text is very important and its true; because a lot of people somethimes they buy a lot thing unnecessary ,so when the bills come they dont have a money to pay ,because they like to spend a money for nothing.

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