I just started reading a fantastic book called Winning The Story Wars, and it points out this very interesting fact:
Just as Americans began to consume vastly more in the 1950s, measures of national happiness were peaking. As our rate of consumption — measured in house size, number of cars, trash produced, dollars spent and earned — more than doubled, indicators of individual happiness stayed flat and then began to decline. Maybe that's because we're working more hours, deeply in debt, and our anxieties are constantly being stimulated by our mythmakers [i.e. marketers].
The first step to solving a problem is admitting that there is one: since the 1950s, the West has been overrun by a drive to consume (which is driven by its hope of finding meaning and happiness). Instead, all it has found is increased sorrow, anxiety, jealously, exhaustion, and much more. Consequently, the word consumer has become synonymous with the word human; consumption now isn't so much something we do anymore, it's become part of who we are, and it's changing us for the worse.
This is scary. Very scary indeed. Not just because people are being hurt individually, but also because we are being hurt collectively. By becoming consumers chasing down the next new item or experience, our tastes, thoughts, and opinions are being significantly influenced. And in the process, we are leaving the responsibility of defining our culture — even the definition of what it means to be human in the world — within the hands of the elite few who decide what we do and do not consume.
So, instead of always being consumers, we need to become producers; make amazing things and experiences that take culture back into the hands of the individual and influences the collective for a greater purpose and reason.
So let's not leave the definition of our culture and humanity in the hands of an elite few, okay?