American MaterialismQUESTION: Is American materialism increasing?
Is American materialism increasing? To answer this question, we need only look at the current buying trends in present day society. Even a cursory glance at these trends would cause the question to be answered with a resounding YES! The pursuit of the American dream has become rather costly in that it is fraught with a large quantity of material possessions. The requirements to “keep up with the Joneses” are becoming more and more burdensome. Americans are made to feel that they absolutely must have certain things that had not even been invented just a few years ago. The increase in high tech, computerized, and digitized devices in the areas of electronics and household appliances has altered the landscape of the American home and family.
What has fostered and fed these new trends? First and foremost, Americans will continue to subscribe to the pursuit of material goods, especially high tech devices for two basic reasons: the need for comfort and the need for entertainment. The deep, sometimes unspoken desire is to be coddled, catered to, and distracted. Embedded in this need for comfort and entertainment is the need for easy, quick access to information and resources. So, along with popping the family dinner into a microwave oven and eating the meal in a room with perfect temperature control, bill paying can be done from the comfort of home without ever writing a check or mailing an envelope. One can simply use a laptop from the comfort of any room in the house (thanks to a home-based wireless network), type in a few digits and press "go." Any topic may be researched from the limitless stores along the information highway from how to treat a skin rash to exploring ancient religions.
Next, a parent can “talk” back and forth with a son or daughter in college or to an elderly mother halfway across the world. Such things were virtually unheard of many years ago. After the bill paying, research, and e-mailed correspondence, one can relax in the family room and choose from literally hundreds of movies or programs accessed through their cable or satellite TV provider. The picture will be viewed on a screen nearly covering the entire wall while the stereo sounds fill the entire room. These are just a few of the things that have become necessities, along with video games, luxury cars, summer homes, boats, designer clothing, and disposable contact lenses. These are the “must haves” of the American dream. Families, couples, and individuals expend hours, days, and years of their lives to obtain these things so that they may feel that they have “arrived” and so that they may be comfortable.
This increase in American materialism, unfortunately, exists along with other less fashionable increases; teen suicide, depression, divorce, the disintegration of the family, bankruptcy, and despair. It does not appear that those living by the law of materialism are necessarily happy or fulfilled. The increase in the pursuit of things is evident; satisfaction from possessing these things is suspect and spurious. Jesus declared in John 10:10b, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” He also asked the rhetorical question, “Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25b). While Americans continue to search and work for the “full life” it is urgent that they also discover the real source of “full life."