The High Price of Materialism

Using results from several psychological and scientific studies on materialistic persons, Kasser argues that materialistic persons experience abnormal levels of unhappiness, anxiety, low self-esteem, and relationship problems. Kasser blames mostly the media and advertising industry for influencing individuals’ psychology into believing that pursuit of material goals will fulfill their necessity for sanctuary, self-esteem, community partaking and personal freedom. The main assumption especially that rendered to young people and teens is that, even though every person has needs to satisfy, a successful attainment of such needs results in higher quality of life. To Kasser, materialism is an inefficient means of attaining personal needs, since the act of buying and consuming products only brings about a feeling of goodness, and which lasts for a while leaving only a feeling of discontentment. As Kasser puts it materialism….more of eating junk food… it fills you up for a while. but doesn’t really meet your body’s need for nutrients in the right balance. so you feel like eating more and end up fat and unhealthy (Kasser, 2003, p 24). Hence, materialism turns out to be a vicious unfulfilling circle. Notably, they value wealth and popularity as their intrinsic objective, forgetting that these two are not founded on self-growth but are instead based on the self as epitomized by others. Furthermore, he asserts that the current strong projection of materialism is based on capitalism and cultural fracture, since the extensive projection of materialism by the media, advertising, and the economy and pushes a common theme of individuals expressing themselves by following other people interests instead of having ownership of individual behaviors (Kasser, 2003). In effect, materialism is not about having a sense of self-direction or being free but being controlled by needs. Impact of Materialism Kasser is right to assert that materialism interferes with authentic self-expression and intimate relationships (2003). This is more so because most people especially teens and young working class people judge each other value and success based on what they own or possess. In particular, a person is judged on the type of sport car he or she drives, latest smartphone or up to date fashion, instead of acumen, kindness and community contributions. It is about having more or better than what others have instead of having enough that can comfortably satisfy personal needs. My observation is that individuals who are already unhappy and suffering from poor psychological health turn into materialism as a means of meeting their psychological needs. Materialism has not influenced my life entirely but some of my friends and family members have, especially in the sense that they concentrate more on acquiring expensive items not because they necessarily need them but because they want to be part of the affluent. Such individuals have this strong tendency to envy what other people possess as they lack self-esteem or are not able to express themselves in relationships. They normally exhibit a strong sense of displeasure when other people possess items they personally desire. This is despite the fact that most normally goes through difficulties in trying to attain financial stability and social acceptance (Kasser, 2003).

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