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What allows for self-determination? How does one find his or her purpose in life? Well, first one must have the right of choice. Second, one must have equal rights and a fair equality of opportunity without any interference of an outside influence. In this paper, we will discuss the possible pros and cons of how capitalism and consumerism play a very vital role in one’s destiny.
Capitalism can offer a lot of innovation by allowing an individual to think outside the norm. Although capitalism gets a bad name because they are ultimately self-interested in making money for themselves but what if we are not seeing the full picture of what they are trying to achieve? Capitalist tend to follow the path of least resistance and play on the lethargies of our society. Capitalism can also give self-determination back to society by preventing large bureaucratic governments that can heavily influence society.
The other side of capitalism can limit individual’s ability by only thinking of themselves. By being narcissistic and only thinking about monetary value can ruin one’s image. Should the top 1% of billionaires use their power to fix societies problems? How far is too far in creating a successful business? Should they avoid monopolies that restrict people freedom? They will always find a way to attract consumers whether that is morally or immorally. Capitalists will always find a way to gain monopoly and exploit consumers. With this type of power, they can lower wages of their workers and gain most of the profit. This eventually leads to inequality.
There is really nothing morally wrong with buying and selling a product. Capitalists must promote them in an honest way but they don’t always. Society has created a picture-perfect world and advertises it through marketing. For example, models advertising clothing are edited to look skinnier, have glowing skin and perfect hair. This manipulates people buying into these products to give them temporary happiness. Capitalism has created a society wanting to be perfect, wanting to have the newest clothes, and wanting to look the best physically. Without the desire for an aesthetic life, maybe people would be more like the young girls in Barbie-Q.
In Barbie-Q, the author Sandra Cisneros reminisces on her younger days. She presents the young girls as poor with a small number of toys. These young girls each have one Barbie and limited new outfits for the dolls which includes using an old sock as an outfit. At the flea market, they find burnt Barbie dolls on sale but that doesn’t matter because all that matters are what is on the inside. They are excited to play with the dolls despite the smoke and burns from the fire. This brings up an important lesson that you have to look past the looks on the outside and find inner beauty. Many people desire to look the best and have the best and this is from the influence of others.
One of the biggest nuances of consumerization is society always being influenced by an outside force. This could limit individual’s potential by making them materialistic. The problem of advertising is that is always feels like something is following one around. As if they are shadowing you, always putting their product in your face and ultimately invading personal space. This could also ruin many experiences. For example, when we saw the comparison of the Shea Stadium scoreboard in the 20th century compared to the 21st century. One could argue that it is difficult to see the actual scores on the scoreboard due to the bombarding of advertisements. This could also be classified as manipulation. In a way, they are trying to adopt society to their point of view.
Advertising is no longer about simply showing off a product. It is about creating false desires and needs to society. As soon as they get a specific product they are content, well just for the moment that is. But as soon as a better product comes out and the advertisement saying that you can’t live without this product, the consumer is unsatisfied. Repeating the cycle of unsatisfactory. This will lead to society to become materialistic. Now of course it is not all about the advertisement that are being created to sell their product. What about the consumers taking responsibility of buying that product. After all no one is forcing them to buy a specific product. Should the consumers have the aptitude to resist the influences of advertisements?
Materialism makes you miserable and advertisements make you fall into that constant cycle of unsatisfactory. Consumerism feeds into the constant feeling of not being satisfied. For example, in Bartleby the Scrivener, where New York started becoming the booming city of commerce, it focuses on dehumanization. The ending phrase of “Ah, Bartleby! Ah, humanity! links to the absurdity of humankind as it is today.
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