Acquiring much stuff for pleasure and prestige does not amount to happiness. Anna Quindlen’s “Why Stuff is not Salvation” highlights how consumerism has taken precedence in the American society. The need to acquire more stuff as a sign of wealth has been emulated by the American citizens without giving thought of the repercussions attached to the same.
Perhaps, analysis of whether the people have become happier in recent years due to the economic progress is a subject of investigation. In recent times, the escalation of the consumerism ideology has not only led to poverty, homelessness, but also socioeconomic problems.
The materialism or consumerism concept is not an American problem, but also a global phenomenon. From this perspective, one understands the evolution of the great depression to the economic recession in recent years.
Therefore, accumulating much stuff through consumerism is rendered useless during the economic recession.
It is important for American consumers to understand that there exist more precious items to spend money on other than luxuries. The author is explicit when explaining how the average American citizens are excited by the idea of acquiring the latest items in the market. To the author, such items are unnecessary compared to important needs such as “college tuition and taxes” (Quindlen 321).
The author questions the idea of buying “a new cellphone after every 16 months” (321). In addition, the idea of having a flat screen television in the bedroom as exhibited among many Americans is absurd. In fact, the author likens the American buying habit to that of a 7-year old.
However, the resultant of such behavior is a booming business that transcends that of the common basic needs. The current system of the economy that supports the use of credit card creates to a debt-ridden population.
The untamed desire to acquire more stuff is a major cause of homelessness in the United States. People fail to pay up for a mortgage due to their increased desire to acquire designer handbags, additional cars and advanced electrical gadgets.
Recent trends related to homelessness imply that that the phenomenon is on the increases especially after people lose their jobs. The relationship between the economic recession, poverty and jobs are considered critical in understanding the consumerism behavior in the United States.
The ideal way of understanding that acquiring stuff is unnecessary is during an economic recession. During the economic recession, the items that one thought to be valuable become useless. For example, one is not in a position to use items acquired for monetary value. It is illogical to utilize additional cars or even buy luxurious commodities.
During the economic recession, the idea of having the basic commodities becomes a nightmare for the majority of the Americans. During the economic hard times, lack of money to buy foodstuffs or to drop out of college becomes a common trend. The luxurious shoes, handbags and phones are no longer important to humanity when economic recession becomes a reality (322).
The author’s expression that peoples’ reaction during a tragic event ought not to be saving the luxurious stuff is comparable to that of national interests. In this context, the need for people to reevaluate the economic priorities in terms of what to purchase is a critical issue (322).
Quindlen’s assertion that America consumerism behavior has caused death of workers at Wal-Mart and other stores is horrifying. The acts of buyers trampling over a worker in a bid buy discounted items are a sign of how binge acquisition has overpowered rational thinking.
Interestingly, the writer argues that the horrifying acts by shoppers are not a surprise. From this perspective, it is clear that binge shoppers are not rational, and their quest for materialism is beyond humanity.
In order to understand how acquiring stuff is irrelevant, one must acknowledge the fact that most of the Americans have neglected the act of saving in recent years. The author reminisces about the days when people would prioritize “exchanging birthday money for a savings passbook” (321).
Today, the act of saving is not embraced by the young generation which adores fashion, cars and mobile gadgets. If people understood the value of saving and benefits derived from the interest, it would be easier taming consumerism. Nonetheless, the emergence of the plastic credit card has made it difficult for Americans to embrace the culture of saving money.
In conclusion, understanding that happiness does not emanate from acquired stuffs is important to very shopper. The author depicts how a family in rural Pennsylvania derives happiness through little possession. From the author’s example, the value of appreciating little possession and using the same to create wealth is an important lesson for all the Americans.
Perhaps, the most important aspect of happiness is creating wealth as evidenced by “raising bees for honey, science and fun” (322). Attaching value to every item in possession is a critical aspect in knowing what is important to man. Nonetheless, the prestige derived from possessions that are non-value adding do not matter in the long-term.
Quindlen, Anne. “Why stuff is not salvation.” The Norton Reader: An anthology of nonfiction. 13th Ed. Eds. Linda Peterson, et al. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012. 321-322. Print.