A World of Consumption

Abby Wormsbaker, Staff Writer

As humans we tend to seek comfort through objects: phones, books, video games, souvenirs from cities that we went to when we were too young to remember, and even random things like blankets and stuffed animals from our childhood that terrify us to let go of because it feels like giving away a piece of yourself.

Maybe you know what I’m talking about: how many shirts do you own? Stuffed animals or knick-knacks from your adolescent years? How many books, pieces of furniture, or even shoes fill up space in your house? What about things that have been hiding deep within your closet, but remain there because you think you may need it in five years? There are several examples of materialism. Maybe you recognize it through this: how long did it take you to buy the newest iPhone, the newest TV, or the newest makeup palette? Did buying these items bring happiness or comfort? If so, how long did it last?

The main question I have is why people tend to seek comfort through things that are not going to matter, work, or be a trend within the next year or so. Why do people value these certain things more than they value or love people who are important to them? It may sound absurd! How could anybody value such meaningless things rather than people, and even things that actually matter like their favorite DVD or book? But when you really look around you begin to notice how this occurs.

For example, at Christmas time kids (oftentimes) give a big list of things they want and nothing they really need, things that may bring them joy for a solid four months and soon you’ll see that item tucked away underneath a bed, gone and forgotten. But as we grow older our lists become shorter and more expensive: things that are exciting and new. It’s almost as if we are trying to buy our happiness.

There is a documentary on Netflix that inspired me to reevaluate the things I owned (and eventually inspired me to donate old clothes that I don’t wear anymore, sell items I haven’t used in years, and throw out old objects that are connected to memories I have been holding on to for no reason over the years). The film is called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. This film talks about two men who wanted to study how materialism takes value into people’s lives. I highly suggest watching this documentary to at least form an opinion on where you stand with this topic.

Granted, this isn’t me being against giving people gifts or people owning things for pleasure. I understand the emotional connections to certain items that people hold. However, I think it is important to really think about what it is you are holding onto. If you have a closet full of clothes, shoes, collected magazines from 2004 or old toys that you have not worn or used in five years, then maybe consider donating  or selling them. Not only does this make more space for you, but it also feels refreshing to restart and simply own things that you really need. Also… as the holidays get closer, think about giving people things they really need or want instead of things you THINK they may or may not need or want. Give the energy you are using on loving these precious items and spread the love to the people in your life because they will last a lot longer.

Use things, not people. Love people, not things.” – Minimalism: Documentary About The Important Things.

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