Materialsm Magnified

December 11, 2011
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Values Americans Live By," by Robert Kohl states, "But by any standard, Americans are materialistic. This means that they value and collect more material objects than most people would ever dream of owning." (Kohls). As a high school student myself, walking through the halls I see the constant effects of materialism on teenagers of all kinds. It's the girls carrying designer purses and wearing name brand clothes verses the other girls who have no purse or designer clothes at all. And the boys who have fifteen different pairs of sneakers and numerous designer button ups verses the boys who walk around with the same shirt they wore a week before. The less fortunate teens striving to "fit in", while the more popular bunch strives to stay on top. A change needs to be made concerning the materialistic virtues of teenagers today because if left alone, materialism will continue to grow and effect our future generations.

Materialism seems as if it is being introduced to America’s youth earlier and earlier as time goes on, almost simultaneously.Today, young children are the main targets of corporations and businesses looking to expand and spread their companies. Starting before they can even talk, today's youth are "bonded to brands", memorizing and committing to memory companies' ideas, logos, and products. Some people argue that children today are being "brainwashed" while others says that it's "genius" (Rotella and Gold). If children today are being “brainwashed”, why do we stand for it and allow it to continue? Simply because we ourselves are materialistic, even though we sometimes see right past it. Jacob Stroud, a teenager from south Michigan puts it this way, "Perhaps the most frightening part of this greedy obsession is that love of materialism is spreading to our youth.” (Stroud) Stroud is one hundred percent correct. We can’t expect our future generations to be unmaterialistic when we ourselves are a prime and shining example of materialism.

These so called businesses and corporations that encase and brand America today are main contributors to the spike in materialism, as time has gone on. These companies will do whatever it takes to stay successful and get your money. Their tactics include making deals with celebrities to endorse their products, placing their products in games and movies,and being sponsors of sporting events and concerts worldwide (Christopher). All of these tactics are what draw people in and allow these corporations to continue to be multi million and billion dollar companies each year. If these companies just stopped advertising and promoting their products through television commercials and in magazines, how would they ever be successful? The answer is they wouldn’t be (Muncy and Eastman).When I flip through an issue of Seventeen or Teen Vogue magazine and I see and advertisement for a designer dress from Express or a new kind of makeup from Covergirl, I want to go out and buy it. Even though advertising continues to make materialism a trending topic, its hurting us when it comes to our mental attitude concerning materialistic values.

The iPhone, Coach purses, Uggs, the iPad, Juicy Couture, and Prada. These are all brands and objects that appeal to the majority of teens today, all things that teens WANT. It is estimated that in 2005, teens alone spent $159 billion (Christopher). Think about how much money that really is. With $159 billion dollars alone we could feed and clothe a third world country. However, “For countless teens, what you own is who you are,” says Maura Christopher of the Weekly Reader’s Corporation. That statement is especially true in high schools across America today, even right in my high school. The students who wear designer clothes and drive nice cars to school standout from the students who cant afford to buy designer brands or afford to buy a car. So as the more fortunate group of teens continue to spread their materialistic attitudes, sometimes intentionally and some without even knowing it, the less fortunate teens continue to dream and hope that maybe one day, they will eventually be able to call a designer purse or a nice car, their own. Either way, both groups of teens although segregated by the idea of money and opportunity, are aware of and a participating in the spread of materialism.

The question is, what actions can be taken in order to reduce the increased level of materialism, in teens especially, today? The mindset that material things and money make you happy, needs to stop before its too late. Our main problem is that we are so quick to realize what others have compared to ourselves, that these superficial things are what we depend on to make us happy. And in the long run, this happiness is only temporary (Christopher). We have to remember that despite all of the ads out there tempting us to buy their products, in order to create equality among all classes and kinds of people, the level of materialism in this country needs to drop tremendously (Christopher). I believe that going and buying something new whether it’d be a dress or a new phone. It only provides you with a short lived happiness the first couple weeks you have it, until another product comes out that in your eyes is better than the one you already have. If an attempt to decrease the number of ads put out in magazines, in movies, and on commercials is made soon, their is that slight chance that we ourselves can help contribute to the decline of materialism.

#Materialism cannot continue to be just another trending topic, like it’s something is on Twitter. As we as a society continue to allow materialism to take over our lives, its affects not only us and our future generations, but the way we see the world. A high school student by the name of Jacob Stroud says this, “Shopping malls are our churches, celebrities are gods, and “People” and “Vogue our bibles.” Material items and are beginning to take over our lives the the point that if we let it continue, there will be no turning back. Recognition and acceptance of this serious problem is the only way that materialism can made better and the only hope we have in not allowing it to effect and absorb the lives of our future generations.

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