What do we know about consumerism? A starting point may be to ask ourselves, why do we have so many pairs of shoes? Maybe we saw someone wearing a pair we thought were cool? Or we saw them on a fashion blog as the "new must haves"? Perhaps you follow Miranda Kerr on Instagram and she looked so good in those black heels, you knew you had to have the same pair?
The more there is to have the more we want and the more we think we need. Economics 101 and the Oxford Dictionary tell us that consumerism is the preoccupation of society with the acquisition of consumer goods. We are never happy with what we have, or where we are. We always want more.
Only a few years ago we only knew what we couldn't or didn't have from TV, radio, and on civvies day. Now, with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram we are never short of an opportunity to see what is going on in the world - a world, which most of the time, we aren't even a part of.
Social media has created the opportunity for us to present our best self for everyone to see. As the video, The Innovation of Loneliness, did its rounds, it summed it up beautifully - "I share, therefore I am." It's as if we don't exist unless we've shared our #selfie #run #coffee #life on the Internet.
Some argue that the generation of 20-somethings is inherently unhappy. Why? Well, in short, because our expectations are too high. And Facebook doesn't help. Who honestly knew there was a music festival in Miami before the "aftermovie" went viral? Within days, there was a good chance the most searched term on Google was "flights to Miami" because Miami Ultra just made it onto everyone's bucket list.
Before the Internet we didn't know of half the cool stuff we were missing out on. Not just globally, but within our so called social circles. As American writer and columnist, Caroline Knapp, says, "Consumerism thrives on emotional voids." With social media at the centre of our lives, we are constantly reminded of what is happening around us, testing our sense of being. Whether it is brands, products or experiences, if someone else is doing it, you are more likely to want to do it to. It's why advertisers use an influencer strategy - a fancy way of getting the cool kids to advocate your product, brand or experience.
We use people who have something that other people want, to sell brands. Because if someone else is doing it, and if someone else cool is doing it, I want to do it. I want to buy it. I want to be it. And then I want to share it, so that everyone can see I'm cool too. Social media perpetuates Consumerism. We've become preoccupied not just with acquiring goods, but with incorporating everything we read about or see online into our lives with the belief that it will fill the emotional void. That is, until the next big thing comes along that we don't have or didn't do.
The challenge is to take a breath and appreciate where we are right now. To look for purpose in what we do rather than in things and maybe we'll start to feel that so called void diminish, because actually where we are, and what we have is enough for now.