I have decided that this week, is the week that I will sort my room out once and for all. I didn’t realise just how much stuff I had. Where did it all come from? All I can think of is, what a complete waste of money. Did these objects make me happier? Did they fulfill the expectations that I had when I purchased them? Simple answer, No. If I know this, then why do I continue to keep buying.
My drawers are filled with half used makeup bottles that I told myself I needed, diaries barely written in, candles half used, the latest top I just HAD to buy, which goes with absolutely nothing, and I have only worn once. What a bloody waste. Why? Because at the time, I ‘needed’ (this being the operative word) to have this product. The weird thing is, I remember buying these products thinking ‘I really can’t afford this, I should save my money instead… Oh sod it, YOLO and all that’, and here I am, staring at it unused.
All the dresses and shoes I have hanging in my wardrobe, I remember buying them all being so excited to come home and try them all on. In my head I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, can’t wait to go home and try this on’, ‘Can’t wait to wear this out tonight, everyone will be jealous’… who was this ‘everyone’ I was trying to make jealous? Was I really that insecure in myself as a person that I needed the approval of a stranger in order to make myself feel good? Obviously. Not much has changed. I still obsess over my body, my skin and my hair. I spend far too much time and money browsing shops online. Just who am I trying to impress?
This got me thinking, why do we place such high value on such materialistic things? The latest mulberry handbag will not provide shelter for you, or feed you or give you security. I’ll tell you what it will do. The stranger on the street will presume you have money and therefore presume you are a successful and happy person. Right? WRONG. The stranger might think this, but is that really enough compensation considering the price of the bag?
The problem with society is that we put too much stress and emphasis on things that do not matter in life. Who really cares if you have the latest Nike shoes or a cool new haircut? It is the emotional and spiritual moments we have with friends and family that matter most of all. We should encourage people to feel better about themselves, not worse! I think it is immoral that advertising tries to make us feel inferior if we are not physically attractive, famous or have an abundance of money. Most people that possess these ‘qualities’ aren’t as happy as the person sitting next to you.
From studying my degree at uni (Sociology) I was well aware of the concept of consumerism and globalisation. I have learnt that advertising companies create artificial needs for the consumer in order to sell their product. In a developed country such as ours, all our immediate needs are met. Therefore, to keep the wheels of economy turning we are subjected to constant advertisements, selling things we ‘think’ we want. Well the economy needs to keep growing doesn’t it? Growth, growth, growth. We have to keep expanding. So I tell myself I need every shade of MAC lipstick. I tell myself I need that bag to match that particular pair of shoes. I need the latest iPhone. Don’t I? Don’t you?
We all have a burning desire to lead a richer and more meaningful life and to enable this to happen it takes a lot of soul searching. The same goes for people that are obese, why do they keep eating? They aren’t hungry, however they feel their is a void that needs to be filled. Therefore, we think it is much easier to replace these void with a cheap fix from a shop. We will just keep buying and spending as we have an insatiable hunger. We are not nourished by what we purchase in the shops or by what we eat. The needs that we have are not artificial. But the answers we are being sold are.
A story that always stuck with me: Out on a boat on a beautiful river in Dalyan, Turkey. My mother gets a phone call from her friend saying her husband has just spent £30,000 on a new BMW. When the phone is put down, the man driving the boat looks confused and asks, ‘£30,000 on a car?’… after a long pause he says, ‘why?’, just a simple question. However, none of us could offer up a reasonable answer. That got me thinking, who has the better life? The man in an expensive suit, driving around in a brand new BMW who gives of the perception that he is living the high and mighty lifestyle, or the man wearing dirty clothes, driving a small river boat to earn his keep?
The question I hear you all ask, so what does it actually take to fulfill this need that we have? Each individual person will have an individual answer. I believe that our culture will not give us the right environment in which to think about our answers. We need space and time away from brainwashing adverts, we need to strip away all the things we think we want in order to realise the things we actually need. But then again, true soul-searching is not a profitable business though, is it.