Our generation lives in the best timeline of history, yet some critical issues exist which are too remarkable to disregard; think about how today’s generation has an affinity toward money and how their obsession with possession of expensive things is growing day by day. Oftentimes the youth today are more attached to the idea that owning fancy desires and materialistic success are the highest values in life. In other words, achieving materialistic pursuit and lavish life seems to be the most admired goal that today’s generation envisions— even if not true. This has turned into an urgent issue— otherwise called materialism— that has dominated the culture of our generation and has highly affected the quality of life. Materialism has altered the intellectual culture of the new generation by forcing them to sacrifice the real-life values for temporary satisfaction that is believed to privilege them for being accepted, praised and known by society. Many obvious and realistic pieces of evidence support this fact.
Nowadays, the young generation thinks that luxurious belongings are the key to happiness and it can make themselves feel better. Also, the younger generation is more inclined toward the acquisition of the latest facilities because it is believed to raise their status or self-esteem, and modify their self-image among their peers. Subsequently, the young generation compares themselves to others and believe that they must acquire enough wealth to be valuable enough. Our generation faces this issue every day without being concerned about it while materialism is ruining their lives by perpetuating greed in them and by adapting their conscience on an incomplete base. It starts with a small natural inclination as youngsters get attracted to the materialistic world which is fine but then it gets severe as they come to believe that the more they have, the happier they will be, the better they will look, and the more they are worth. A youngster who gets addicted to materialism happens to go all the way up to that level for no other reason but the belief that nothing else matters as long as one finds the path to permanent— something fairly misleading— fulfillment by material goods and wealth.
As a part of this generation, it can be seen that we are living under the shadow of materialism all the time; movies, billboards, advertisements, commercials, online websites, social platforms and so many other aspects of our daily life promote materialism. That is the reason why our generation has gotten used to embrace materialistic trends and not only that, their life expectancy has been getting incredibly high. Materialism is a very serious and important issue in our generation because it is taking our lives away from us by placing a resilient priority on provisional thrills and it is promoting negative feelings like jealousy, low self-esteem, selfishness, narcissism, greed, social isolation, and many more. Materialism is eating us from inside and it is an unjustifiable temptation that has to be stopped; our generation should avoid materialism by accepting themselves the way they are. The solution lies in changing our actions since our lives are most likely to stay as they are unless we facilitate change. We need to separate ourselves from what we own and find the intrinsic values of our lives.
Preoccupation with the materialistic world has taught our generation to use possessions as an indicator of success and seek materials as an ultimate source of happiness. In fact, the young generation has an intense desire for worldly possessions because of the idea that it can make them happier than anything else; teenagers pay more attention and spend excessive money and time in acquiring new branded clothes, accessories, applications, electronic gadgets, and many more without looking at the bigger picture or real cost of what they call contentment of heart. One cause of such a mindset is social media and cell phones that release a chemical called Dopamine (rushes of excitement and happiness); the young generation defines happiness as SnapChat streaks, Twitter followers, Facebook friends, and Tinder matches. As you get 100 likes you turn to be happy, as you get 1000 followers you feel the luckiest, and this is where the problem starts. When youngsters do not get likes and followers, they get depressed, impatient, and lack self-confidence within themselves— as if they were owning happiness through it.
From what we can see, the new generation is extremely dependent on the happiness that is originated from materialistic love and it is the reason why the new generation lacks deep connecting relationships, real friendship, and fear failure. This is a serious issue because this belief (materialism brings happiness) is encouraging youngsters to dedicate unnecessary attention and time to the so-called leading factor of happiness that is rarely leading them to real glorification. “The extrinsic nature of materialistic goals is a possible reason for the lack of happiness found with highly materialistic individuals” (Watson). Although new generation has come to expect that happiness and success can be increased through buying, spending and accumulating material wealth, materialism is toxic to happiness as it is leading a person to be dissatisfied with their current standard of living— we are losing our connection with everything that truly makes us happy— which in turn negatively influences overall life satisfaction. Under such pressure, youngsters fail to focus on the most important areas of life such as family life, social life, and health, which adversely affect their wellbeing. To prevent such a breakdown, young generation must find purpose within their lives and seek what brings real happiness to them (family, friends, peace of mind, serenity, and many more); happiness is found in the little things in life and we must discover them by listening to our hearts.
Moreover, materialism has been highly effective in the self-esteem of the new generation as it is perceived to reflect their dignity and position between their companions and society. The new generation is more concerned about their outward appearance and they are mostly focused on accumulating meaningless belongings just to impress others, feel empowered — actually seeking for acceptance or being valued— and fit in the materialistic world out there. In other words, the new generation is very desperate for obtaining higher status and they can cross any limit— even if it cost them the most— for reaching the heights of fame. They think that the real aim of life is to earn a lot of money and lead an impressive role within the society but, after obtaining all those luxury pursuits too, there is still some kind of loneliness in all of them. This is because, we all our lonely from inside until and unless we do not walk on the right path, and follow the legitimate pursuits that are the actual feeder of our soul. This is an urgent issue because teenagers get troubled by such a dilemma and they do not care about the condition of their souls, the states of their minds or the errors in their ways because nothing else matters along as they get a certain status that only lasts a few days.
This approach is very unhealthy and insane; we do not need to change to be accepted by others, we shall remain ourselves and the true ones will accept as the way we are. Larsen, Sirgy, and Wright state that, “negative consequences of materialism may include life dissatisfaction, decreased self-esteem, social alienation, possessiveness, shoplifting, family contentiousness, and environmental degradation.” Although the new generation tends to view materialism as a way of finding a great and admirable position among everyone, materialism isolates them from society and lowers their self-esteem as they become more insecure about their real personality. Solutions
Ironically, materialism has motivated youths to compete with others and turn to quantity instead of quality to measure the worth of themselves and others. Nowadays, adolescents are tempted to compare themselves with those who have more materialistic accomplishments, seem more attractive, make more money, or boast more social media friends; youngsters consider that their worth is perceived with the kind of gadgets they have, the labels they wear, and the car they drive, but they have forgotten what really matters―the mettle within. It does not make sense to use the money to determine your value as a human being; the amount of money you earn or expensive possessions you own will never be enough to satisfy your need to feel worthy.
Regardless of the amount you attempt to support your self-image, your internal discontent and deficiency constantly reappear, creating new wants. Bernardo and others also claim that “materialism focuses attention on comparing one’s possessions to others, making one constantly dissatisfied and wanting more.” With the lack of drive to fulfill such never-ending materialistic needs, it is truly dreadful to imagine what steps can be undertaken to meet them; failure to achieve the dream of discovering your ultimate worth often leads to anxiety, stress, hopelessness, and low self-esteem. This issue is fairly serious because it misleads the young generation to feel inner emptiness and attracts them to derive a sense of self-worth from the external factors in their lives— mostly materialistic wealth.
As mentioned before, materialism is the most urgent issue of the young generation that has been affecting their perception about real means of gratification, reputation, and personal values; adolescents hold on to the belief that possessions are the infrastructure of their entire life. Materialism is a significant issue since it cuts off individuals from the real world by distracting them with materialistic aspirations. Youngsters are seeing the nightmare of complacency without realizing the betrayal of materialistic fulfillment and this is a big threat to the future, therefore this issue has to be solved. We can still mend our ways and move towards a beautiful world. For this, we have to look for a purpose in our life, each individual has to make some changes in his outlook, and we have to separate ourselves from the material world. This will make us happy both with or without the material things that we desire. It will make us feel that ‘if I get that thing it’s good but if I do not get that it is fine with me’. It is not very easy for us to get this kind of mental set up but it is not an impossible task too. We need to remind our generation that ringing consciousness, mindfulness, and self-awareness into our daily life is happiness, not the race for material possessions or stature gained through objects or likes (objects rust, one day you will be old, and likes are fleeting).
Our generation needs to understand that the real values of life are not limited to materialistic possessions, but the memories that we create, the people that we meet, the experiences we have and the impact we have on the world for good are everlasting and they are the most important aspect of our life. Writing this essay has changed the way I looked at the world; for the most of my life, I had been wondering if there might be some affluence behind the materialistic pursuits and it might support individuals up to some extent, but now I can clearly see that there is more to the story and it is really not worth the desire and attention.