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The Culture of Excess

We live amid a culture of conspicuous consumption.

We surround ourselves with more than what we need.

Does this make you happy? Or do you spend sleepless nights worrying about dollars and cents?

We live in a society of gadgets and gizmos, toys and more toys, of things that evoke feelings of luxury, style, and class. This is available to almost everyone, not just a privileged few. This is the 21st century.

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No other time of the year is it more prevalent, conspicuous and aggressively promoted than during the Christmas season.

Thanks to advances in technology, the airwaves, the print, and electronic media are flooded with advertisements that appeal to society in general, to people from all walks of life.

Open any newspaper or magazine and indulge yourself with an endless advertisement, appealing, titillating, and surely tempting. You can’t miss it, it’s almost on every page and glares you in the face.

Turn on the computer and you can access more goods and services at the click of a mouse. Add to this endless ads and banners.

The young generation is brought up in this era of consumerism. They are introduced to a high-maintenance lifestyle at a very young age. Gone are the days when shopping for children was fun. A time when it did not take much to make their young hearts happy. Life was simpler.

Times have surely changed. The trappings of the good life are no longer the sole domain of the wealthy. Comfort, travel, wheels, homes, luxury, name it, it is within the reach of anyone who is willing to pay the price. It is no longer just a dream.

This is just the beginning of the conspicuous consumption of our society. In the name of convenience, there are more and more gadgets for the home introduced faster than one can pay off existing debt. However, this is not a deterrent.

It is no longer a matter of meeting a need, the “want” list gets longer and longer. Each member of a family has their own want list.

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Technology is wonderful; it allows man to take great strides, faster and more accurately than our forbears. Technology makes it possible for a man to explore space, the depths of the ocean, the untrodden parts of this earth. Through technology, man has made incredible advances in science, communication, and the medical field. Technology is of great benefit to mankind.

It is very much a part of our daily lives. There is a downside- man wants more of the convenience that comes with it. It fuels the imagination of both producers and consumers. It stimulates the need to want more. It encourages the desire to pamper oneself, and loved ones with more goods.

Having more than what they need promotes a sense of living the good life. For every season, for every occasion, the market offers boundless ideas and an endless flow of material goods. Beware, quality is slipping down too fast, as production and advertisement are cranked up higher, some of the quality is compromised.

The convenience that technology offers is hard to ignore. How did we manage before, when most of the chores were done manually? Imagine the time spent to get anything done?

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Take a look around the house, push a button to get laundry or the dishes done. Press another button to start the car before you open the door. Set a timer for your coffeemaker, for your lights to come on at a desired time, your radio to wake you up. Wouldn’t you be lost without that remote control?

What about the other gadgets and tools for the handyman? Look at the other things around the house to make living more convenient and definitely add to that feeling of comfort and luxury.

There’s more. Communication is revolutionized. Each member of the family has to be wired. Watch the ads, imagine the convenience of having extra gadgets for each family member just for so much a month. Add to this the paraphernalia that goes with it, some of which are good to have but not a necessity. But does it matter? It becomes a must-have.

The quest for material goods is at excessive proportions. It hits the very core of a person. Some can only measure success relative to their material possessions. Some identify their self-worth with material acquisitions. The words status and prestige are medals they wear proudly. Rightly so, if it makes them happy.

How much of these goods are on credit? How many sleepless nights are spent doing endless calculations and adjustments? Is there room for a quiet time that comes at no cost? Or do they experience that feeling of emptiness amid comfortable surroundings?

Do this culture of excess spell happiness and peace?

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