The United States is built on a foundation of freedom. I am not talking about the freedom of speech or the freedom to bear arms. The most powerful freedom we have is that of free enterprise. It is by far the most sought after and resilient freedom because it was given to the dominating class in our country, big business.
To our friends on Wall Street, everything is capital. Even people are a commodity, and with this in mind, capitalists everywhere find ways to integrate themselves into our daily lives. We do not realize it but many of our perceived needs and wants are prescribed to us by advertising. Buying into this, most Americans are overspending and accumulating more debt, and companies are getting richer by the second. Why do we let this happen, and why do we allow them tax breaks and bailouts that only make them richer?
Television was made not for entertainment, but for these companies to come into our homes and deliver the one-two punch to our wallets. Advertising is everywhere. It is on the clothes that actors wear, on our favorite soap operas and in the commercials that run through the programs we sit through. Ads are being shoveled into our brains, making us think that we must be completely lost without the power of 4G at our fingertips or the newest erectile dysfunction drug. Advertising hasn’t stopped at our television sets. It’s online, lining the margins of your Facebook and popping up every time you watch your favorite Tim and Eric clip on YouTube.
Living in a world that is completely engulfed in advertising and corporate greed makes me wonder where all the love is. It makes me think that I may be striving for the wrong kind of happiness. The things that should make us happy, like friends, family and community, all seem to be disappearing as we grow more alienated by this sense of consumerism.
To me, happiness isn’t bought at a store. We let ourselves become so entangled in the material aspects of life that we lose touch with what really matters. The urge to buy directly imposes itself on us, turning our creative, motivated minds into corn mush. Instead of seeing people for the beauty they possess in their thoughts and the passion they have in their hearts, we see that they are wearing second-hand clothes and not the newest fads.
We should free ourselves from the worries of buying new products that have no meaning in our lives. By building relationships with the people around us, we can overcome the alienation that these products bring. I am not saying to throw your computer out the window — technology is something that is important, but it is not everything. The continual growth of the economy is not our problem, as consumers. It is a problem of the enterprise imposed on us to increase profit. So what if those big business executives don’t have their mansions in the Virgin Islands or their 25th Mercedes Benz? We should live within our means and stop believing that material things will buy us happiness.
Antonio Addessi is a third-year psychology student with a minor in Marxism and socialism.