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The Culture of Excess
(c) Bonnie Moss 12-2005

We live in a society of gadgets and gizmos, of toys and more toys, of things that evoke feelings of luxury, style, class. This is available to almost everyone, not just a privileged few.Welcome to the 21st century. No other time of the year is it more prevalent, conspicuous and aggressively promoted than during the Christmas season.

Thanks to advances in technology, the airwaves,the print and electronic media are flooded with advertisements that appeal to society in general,to people from all walks of life. There is something for everyone. After all,producers of all goods and services have YOU in mind. Open any newspaper or magazine and indulge yourself with endless advertisements, appealing, titillating and surely tempting. You can’t miss it. It’s almost in every page, it glares you in the face.

Turn on the computer and you can access more goods and services at the click of a mouse. Add to this endless ads and banners meant to whet your appetite for things you don’t need and pay for with money you don’t have.The young generation is brought up in this era of consumerism. They are introduced to a high maintenance lifestyle at a very young age. Gone are the days when shopping for children was fun. A time when it did not take much to make their young hearts happy. Life was simpler.

Times have surely changed. The trappings of the good life is no longer the sole domain of the wealthy. Comfort, travel, wheels, homes,luxury,name it, it is within the reach of anyone who is willing to go into debt.Take a look at overstuffed closets, pantries,shelves, garage and any space that is available for storage. Take a closer look at your overfilled refrigerator, half of the food is barely touched! Yet, you keep buying more food that will probably end up in the garbage.

This is just the beginning of the practice of conspicuous consumption of our society. In the name of convenience, there are more and more gadgets for the home introduced faster than one can pay off existing debt. However, this is not a deterrent. It is no longer a matter of meeting a need, the “want”list gets longer and longer. Each member of a family has their own want list.

Technology is wonderful. It allows man to take great strides, faster and more accurate than our forbears. Technology makes it possible for man to explore space, the depths of the ocean, the untrodden parts of this earth. Through technology, man has made incredible advances in science and the medical field. Add to this the revolution and globalization in communication. Technology is of great benefit to mankind.

It is very much a part of our daily lives. There is a downside- man wants more of the convenience that comes with it. It fuels the imagination of both producers and consumers. It stimulates the need for more. It encourages the desire to pamper oneself, and loved ones with more goods.

Having more than what one needs promotes a sense of living the good life. For every season, for every occasion, the market offers boundless ideas and endless flow of material goods. Beware, quality is slipping down fast, as production and advertisement are cranked up , some of the quality is compromised.

The convenience that technology offers is hard to ignore. How did we manage before, when most of the chores were done manually? Imagine the time spent to get anything done? Take a look around the house, push a button to get laundry or the dishes done. Press another button to start the car before you open the door. Set a timer for your coffeemaker, for your lights to come on at a desired time, your radio to wake you up. Wouldn’t you be lost without that remote control?

What about the other gadgets and tools for the handyman? Look at the other things around the house to make life more convenient and definitely add to that feeling of comfort and luxury. There’s more. Communication and entertainment are a gold mine for the enterprising. What’s new today will be obsolete in a short period of time. Each member of the family has to be wired. Watch the ads, imagine the convenience of having extra gadgets for each family member just for so much a month. Add to this the paraphernalia that goes with it, some of which are good to have but not a necessity. But does it matter? It becomes a must have.

The quest for material goods is at excessive proportions. It hits the very core of a person. Some can only measure success relative to one’s material possessions. Some identify their self-worth with material acquisitions. The words status and prestige are medals they wear proudly, trophies worth displaying.

Does this really bring them happiness?

How much of these goods are on credit? How many sleepless nights are spent doing endless calculations? How does this affect family relationships?

How can happiness be enjoyed amid an atmosphere of borrowed affluence? Does this culture of excess pave the road to happiness and peace?

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