In today’s world, people prioritize their Instagram feeds and Snapchat streaks over actually talking to people and going out with friends.
A Mobile Statistics study showed that on average, people spend about 90 minutes a day on their phone. That may not sound like a lot of time, but 90 minutes a day equals 23 days of a year and 3.9 years of the average person’s life. Looking into a 5.5 inch screen for this long can take away from many important activities, like having a conversation with a friend or discussing a chapter of a book with your English teacher. From all of this social media exposure, we gravitate towards things instead of experiences.
Being materialistic, as most know, is the desire for material goods and items. This desire often falls into the category of wants, rather than needs. It’s as simple as that; we crave the newest thing. Through social media, we are bombarded with advertisements and edited images of perfect lives, and thus we can never truly feel satisfied. As soon as we hear about the newest model of the iPhone, we tell ourselves that what we currently have just is not good enough.
In eighth grade, it was time for me to finally get my first laptop. After spending four hours at Best Buy with my parents and an impatient employee, I finally chose the computer. A Dell laptop with a C.D. player, 15 inch screen, and a customizable top. As soon as I got home and had it up and running, I was hooked. I spent the next two days watching DVDs, customizing the screen, and exploring the various applications that came with the computer. After about a week, not only did I grow bored of my laptop, but I started seeing the new ads for the “improved” Dell laptop that weighed 2.4 ounces less than mine. Soon after, all I could think was, “Well, this is 2.4 ounces heavier, so it can’t be that good.”
Celebrities with new cars, bottles of 300 dollar champagne, or that one pair of shoes that costs over 400 dollars, are all things that make this problem worse. These materialistic images are only increasing our appetite for objects. We all have a dream house, or a car that we’ve wanted since we can remember, or a photo of some rich pop star that’s taped to our wall But we must ask ourselves, will these material goals really lead to satisfaction? Or are we blindly chasing our dreams because society tells us to. We need to go through our possessions and seek out what really has meaning to our lives. If you haven’t seen or thought of something you own in the past year, get rid of it. I’m not saying that we must all become minimalists that live in houses no smaller than a bathroom stall, rather that we must try to become more aware of what holds true meaning to us.
Over the past half century, the size of the average American home has nearly tripled in size, according to Buffalo News . One might assume this is the result of more babies being born and bigger families, but family sizes are actually shrinking. What is causing us to need more space are our material possessions. Today, there are 2.35 billion square feet of self-storage in the U.S., an amount of land nearly 4 times as big as Manhattan Island. These storage units are primarily there for one purpose: to hold our stuff. And most of the time we forget those items because we never needed them in the first place! When there are reality T.V. shows about people bidding on other people’s storage units, there is clearly a problem. Not only do we waste space and clutter our lives with too much stuff, but we also lose time and satisfaction.
Again, I’m not saying that minimalism is for everyone, we all have things that are special to us. The problem that we’re faced with is our constant want, our lack of appreciation for those special things. Everywhere we look, we see advertisements drawing us in like moths to a light. We approach the light and get burned, yet we try again, knowing that we will never be satisfied.
In short, we all need to become aware of not only what we have, but also of the difference between personally meaningful things and the things that society deems meaningful. By doing this, we will be able to become self-fulfilled, knowing that we don’t need as much as we have. It will teach us to be more thankful and connected to what we have, something that in today’s world has become very hard to do.