We are always rebuilding ourselves as individuals and as a society. This is also the case for aesthetic trends in art, for example: a novelty emerges to take over from the previous trend, never failing to hide the fact that it relied on that trend in order to be born. Impressionism came from Realism to take its place, and the Renaissance illuminated the medieval period. The same thing is true of capitalism, which arose from mercantilism, culminating in the Industrial Revolution, and it has not stopped evolving since.
Society has not stopped producing, and demand has not stopped growing. Human ingenuity, combined with the capitalist system, continuously offers society new and better ways to live. The dominant mantra is that we evolved more in the twentieth century than in the entire history of humanity, and that for consumption, the sky is the limit. The baby boomer generation, born in the period after the Second World War, was a faithful follower of the American Dream in the United States. For them, the purpose of work was to earn enough money that they could enjoy the convenience offered by the system of production. This school of thought eventually spread around the world.
The desire to consume never weakened, and advertising amplified consumer desire. Do you want to be a happy woman? Buy this washer and your life will be wonderful! Do you want to be a powerful and charming man? Smoke our cigarettes! Dissatisfied humanity, unaware of the real reason for their own dissatisfaction, continued to buy things in the hope of achieving complete happiness.
This advertising-driven consumption became increasingly rooted in the sense of belonging. According to the hierarchy of needs proposed by Abraham Maslow, our most basic needs, such as eating and sleeping, must first be met before the human being can pay attention to their psychological needs (including self-esteem and respect for others). And so, in believing in advertising, we also believe that we will only be admired and loved if we own the latest and newest things. But is this really true?
The awakening of consciousness
The fact is that advertising has built an image of an ideal society, a “social type” that must be pursued in order to be accepted and happy. In his “Critique of Pure Reason”, philosopher Immanuel Kant says this about happiness:
“The concept of happiness is so indefinite that, although each man wishes to attain it, he can not definitively and consistently say what it is he really wishes and wills.”
The problem is that we begin to believe that we must adapt to society’s standards in order to elevate ourselves as individuals. Freud theorized about it very didactically, stating that internal conflicts between the id (instinct), the ego, and the superego force us to adapt in society. Today, social networks intensify this need to belong. There are people who feel frustrated by not receiving a certain amount of likes, or being unable to share updates about their colored Adidas sneakers designed by Pharrell.
Let he who has never desired the latest fashion trend cast the first stone. But has anyone ever attained what they desired and then been happy forever? It starts to become clear that happiness is not really related to money or to having a product from brand "x" or "y".
After all, even rich countries have been shocked by the epidemic of depression and anxiety among their populations.
According to the WHO, in 2030 depression may be the most common disease in the world. Now, if medicine and industry are developing and providing human beings with the very best, should we not all (or at least those with access) be satisfied? It doesn’t seem to work out that way. The need for acceptance has become a spell that works against the sorcerer. Human beings began to consider themselves as self-sufficient, and started pursuing the legend of the self-made man. According to Hinduism, this is a facet of Maya, which creates the illusion of separateness in the world, leading us away from the concept of God and the unity of the Universe. It is the origin of many of humanity’s internal and external conflicts.
The x-ray view
We do not need esoteric reflections to assess the real meaning of life. Just take a look at your daily life: do you think of yourself as self-sufficient when eating a banana? After all, all you needed to do was take it from the fruit bowl and eat it. But who planted the banana? And who transported it to you? And if that simple banana plantation was treated with so much pesticide that it contaminated the area and ruined the plantation? This involves you too.
Reflections like this encourage us to question unbridled consumption, which is not leaving consumers fully satisfied. This does not mean we have to stop consuming. The important thing is to assess the quality of this consumption: Do I need this? Will this make me happier? Will buying this product cause negative impacts on the environment? This is the basis of Lowsumerism.
The maxim of the new generation, who want to create a better world, is consumption with awareness – awareness that leads to reflection on the individual’s relationship with himself and society. Conscious consumption means collaborating with each other, knowing that there are enough resources for everyone, and understanding that separateness is just an illusion. This type of consumption also includes boycotting clothing stores that use slave labor, and selling and buying second-hand objects. Lowsumerism attempts to respond to these concerns.
It remains to be seen to what extent this trend will impact relationships not only with consumption, but between individuals. If you have already started to look inside and question your lifestyle, your external attitudes are undoubtedly being reviewed from a conscious perspective.