Commentary: The problem with ‘consumer mentality’


Sydney Thomas-Arnold

Example of a stores selection during the holiday season

Sydney Thomas-Arnold, Feature Editor

Consumer mentality: The expectation that endless and constant options of goods and services are available.

This act of consumption has developed rapidly and is especially notable in current society as it has become a heavy structure of the American economy, lifestyle, and mentality as a whole. Consumption in the US is, arguably, what drives the country, as most systems rely on consumers in some form to enable production and profit.

The cycle of consumption has been normalized as most consumers do not even realize the encapsulating loop of spending; but why is this an issue, why don’t people understand it, and how does “the season of giving” actually exasperate this mentality of taking?

The consumer mentality has objectively become an issue. The rooted need to have and collect more stuff, the urge to buy more things, has created a general materialistic and frivolous society. This mentality also contributes to environmental damage with increased plastic waste, overextending of valuable resources, and filling landfills with the old to make room for the new. While these issues are some of the most obvious, they do not account for other problems, such as taking advantage of cheap labor, and the corporate push-out of small businesses.

With the false label known as “the season of giving”, the holiday season actually indulges in overconsumption. Black Friday, the Christmas Eve rush, and the busyness of this time glorify wanting instead of giving. It’s odd and concerning to see the shift of the season, from focusing on quality time, traditions, and sentimental gifts, to cramming as many not-so-meaningful presents under the tree as possible. Though the shopping of the holidays is powered by good intentions, this mentality causes waning intimacy.

However, this excuse for overconsumption is not necessarily the fault of the consumer. The pressure to buy is all around; it’s seen in ads on billboards, in magazines, and almost everywhere online, most noticeably in the new age of social media. Corporate society has made people feel less for not wanting more, and as a result, has turned almost everyone into a mass consumer.

This year, make the holidays more fulfilling by switching the focus. Instead of falling into the pressure of buying, try adding intimacy and closeness back into this time. In doing so, the consumer mentality can be adjusted, making for a healthier mindset and more connectivity.