Stuff This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   America has developed anobsessive-compulsive desire for stuff. It does not matter what they buy, theywant it. That triple-notched thingamajig is a necessity, the multi-coloreddoohicky is a must, and no home is complete without that whatchamacallit found inshopping malls everywhere. Men, women and children are programmed to believestuff is the ultimate accomplishment. When people are depressed, they goshopping. When they are bored, they go shopping. Trying to kill time? Goshopping! The people of this country measure self-worth and accomplishmentsthrough the accumulation of stuff.

Children are taught that a collegeeducation is important because it "strengthens character," but let'sface it, it's all for the sake of stuff. Think about it: you go to high schooland work hard to go to college, so you can work hard to get a good job, so youcan work hard to get lots of money, so you can buy stuff. Having lots of stuffsays that you are an upstanding citizen with a well-paying job.

Whenpeople (usually women) are tense, it's actually comforting to shop. Making apurchase is the equivalent of venting to a close friend, "My husband and Iare having problems, but I got this great new blouse at Macy's!" And do notunderestimate the power of the words "on sale." If it is possible topurchase a lot of stuff for a small amount of money, it is heaven on earth. It isas if filling more space in the closet with more stuff makes up for the world'sproblems.

After all, new stuff equals new person, right? Obviously,some stuff is necessary. Houses and cars are big commitments in the category ofstuff, but these things have gone as far as to prove eligibility to the "incrowd." Let's reflect: To buy a large house, you have to have money, whichmeans you have a good job, which means you are ambitious. With that one purchasealone, people determine your character and salary.

Then there's the car.Someone driving a sports car is viewed as rich and in desperate need ofattention. Someone driving a four-door sedan is probably more conservative, whilesomeone driving a car with a multi-colored paint job and a trillion dents islikely deemed a menace. Probably three-quarters of a person's income goes totaxes, bills, mortgages and car payments. Just try to tell me that stuff isn'timportant.

Teenagers have a style of their own, and let's face it ... it'sexpensive. We don't want a pair of blue jeans; we want the label on the back. Theshoes we wear need to match the entire ensemble, and, of course, these can't bejust any shoes, they need to be a certain brand, as if feet have a preference.Perhaps this seems innocent enough, but beware if the wrong style is worn toschool. It could be a tragedy.

It's true that some things are required tolive comfortably but, come on, isn't this world complicated enough without theboxes of stuff that somehow keep coming in, but never go out? (Unless, of course,inspiration hits and they have a garage sale.)

There must be a point atwhich people look at all their stuff and realize that maybe they really don'tneed anything more. But noooo, we just keep buying. We may not have any room forour expensive car in our garage, our house may be cluttered with uselessknickknacks, and our clothes may be ridiculously priced, but at least we'll lookgood to our neighbors.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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