Materialism & Marketing: And How It's Killing Us
“That feeling of freedom, open highways of possibilities, has kind of been lost to materialism and marketing.” - Sheryl Crow
On our way back to the mountains yesterday we made a stop by one of the largest malls in our state. I have to admit, after being in a small, mountain town for the last month, I was looking forward to a good overload of shopping options. But as I entered a few stores and started browsing, I started to come to same conclusions I usually do when retail shopping.
What I just can't seem to get past are the over-inflated prices of the most basic material items. Of course, I found several things I liked...and then as it usually does, the absurdity of spending three times what I know I could find similar items for at resale stores and thrift stores starts to get to me. Somehow I usually end up putting it back on the rack for someone else to buy and I walk out of the store empty handed.
The craziest part is, I can't remember one single time I've regretted not buying the item I put back on the shelf. In fact, I usually feel an overwhelming sense of relief that I didn't get "sucked in" by my desire to acquire, that I threw hard earned money down the drain.
And two hours later, I walked out of that three story mega mall with nothing in my hand except a tall pumpkin spice latte.
And I felt completely content.
I think it's because I've learned from trying, that you truly can't buy happiness. There is NOTHING in that mega mall that has the power to improve my current state of happiness.
And yes, sometimes we have genuine material needs. Like a new wardrobe of fall/winter clothing for our children that fit their current size or even a new sweater and cute pair of boots for that event we're attending. It isn't that it's wrong to buy, I think it's more the how we buy and the motivation behind why we buy.
And why do we have to buy at full price? I realize that not everyone is up for buying used and that's okay! But there are always other ways around the retail monster that don't involve yard sales or thrift shops.
1. Waiting for items we need to go on sale - I do this ALL the time. I usually end up feeling pretty excited that I shaved off a good amount of money from the original purchase price. And the way I look at the issue of the possibility of the item being gone when I go back for it later? If it's not there, then it wasn't meant for me!...and I move on.
2. Coupons - Almost every store has online coupons that shave off money if we take the time to look, print them and use them! And honestly with the rise of smart phones, there is NO good reason to ever pay full price in almost any store.
3. Online stores - Every single time I find a medium to big ticket item in a store that I just love or need and it isn't on sale or I don't have a coupon, I whip out my smartphone & see if I can find it online. If I can't find it cheaper anywhere there, and it is a true need, then I buy it right then and there and I don't regret it. But 85% of the time, I can find it somewhere on a site like Amazon, ect. for a much more discounted price! Sure I have to wait on shipping, but why is waiting such a bad thing?
Waiting is a big deal to most people because we live in a "need it now" culture. We aren't satisfied to have to wait for things, and we'd even pay more to have it in our hands THAT DAY rather than save good money to wait a few days more and have the same item....at sometimes half the cost. And stores know that about us!
This is because all too often, without even realizing it, we are looking for things to satisfy us, bring us happiness....but they almost never do. What they end up bringing instead is buyers remorse and bondage to the normal American way of life -
The American culture, the entertainment industry, the advertisements with all their marketing schemes know a few things about all of us - we want to be happy, we want to feel secure and we want to belong. And belonging in American seems to equal "acquiring what everyone else has."