Has Consumerism Taken Over Our Lives?

by Mark Votava


There have been so many questions within me around the thoughts I have had about consumerism and simplicity.  It all started for me as I got out of high school and had to decide what I was going to do in the world.  Would I go to college?  What kind of work would I pursue?

I had a struggle in college about how much money was actually needed to live my life.  I started to questions the whole notion of success in our culture.  It seemed like a waste to work so hard at making money I didn’t want and buying things I didn’t need.  So I began to think about a life of simplicity more where I started to care for others instead of making my life all about consuming, buying and money.

  •  Is consumerism a deadly poison?

Consumerism is a deadly poison that destroys simplicity among us.  We become as addicted to it as a drug addict is addicted to heroine.  We always want more and more.  The cycle never ends and we are being pulled apart in the process to the point where there is very little togetherness anymore in everyday life.

  •  Has our faith become a consumeristic product?

Consumerism plays on our very identity and imaginations.  We have trouble seeing people as nothing more than mere objects to be manipulated and used for our own purposes.  We stop caring when consumerism become our “drug of choice.”  Even our faith turns into a consumerstic product that we use for our own advantage when necessary.  In such a mindset we lose all contact with reality, while continuing to believe that this is the “real world.”

  •  How can we experiment with the practice of simplicity?

Simplicity is the practice that could help us free ourselves from all of this. There is a strength and wisdom in simplicity.  God has given us simplicity as a guiding light in the darkness.  Simplicity clarifies many things that are unknown to others.  We are more open to the Spirit of Christ when simplicity is allowed to create life in us.

  •  Do the things we buy create our identity as consumers?

Parker J. Palmer says, “For many people, consumerism is the drug of choice for assuaging inner emptiness: we purchase goods and services not because we need them but because we think they will shore up our sense of identity and worth. The proof is close at hand in the ads that saturate our public and private lives, ads that rarely focus on the product’s utility.  Instead, they target the inner needs it allegedly fulfills, informed by market research on what consumers seek.  ‘Want to be youthful, beautiful, sophisticated, or powerful? Buy this!’  Our addiction to consumption can run so deep that we keep buying these false promises for the life they give us, despite the fact that the temporary fix leaves us with emptier pocketbooks and still emptier hearts.

Do you practice simplicity as you live out your life?