In the past, materialism made more sense. For example, gold diggers were so focused on gold and materialism because it was a way for them to escape poverty. However, today materialism is less about escaping from poverty and more about status. The more material goods you have the higher status you are. But why is materialism on the rise? Let’s find out.
1. The Grass is Always Greener
Materialism doesn’t make sense. Psychologists show that there isn’t a correlation between wealth and happiness. However, people still believe more money will make them happier, which further drives this materialism. Regardless of the science, it’s hard to combat the “grass is always green on the other side” syndrome. It’s so easy to see neighbors with nice cars and big houses and assume they’re happier.
2. Major FOMO
Fear-of-missing-out, better known as FOMO helps explain this rise in materialism. With so much to do, see and buy in this world it feels like if we don’t have the latest iPhone then we’re missing out. Modern fashion also changes very quickly which requires a certain amount of materialism if people want to keep up with the latest trends.
3. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution
Another possible explanation for our rampant materialism is Darwin’s theory of evolution. Essentially, because natural resources are so limited in the wild, humans have to compete for them to try to gain as many resources as possible. However, even though we’re living in a society where material goods and resources aren’t as limited we still have that evolutionary drive for competition. We want to collect as much personal wealth as possible because that’s what we were evolutionarily “programmed” to do.
4. We’re Constantly Bombarded With Ads
Society is constantly telling us to buy more through advertisements. With billboards, YouTube ads and commercial break on TV, it’s pretty much impossible to escape the materialistic messages. Today the average person sees over 5,000 ads per day whereas in the 1970’s the average person saw just 500 ads daily. This over-exposure to ads telling us to buy and consume has definitely lead to an increase in materialism.
5. Retail Therapy is Addicting
The temporary thrill of materialism can be very addicting. Retail therapy is just one of many examples where people buy something to feel better. Instead of addressing the root cause of our unhappiness, many people opt to fill the void through purchases.
6. Online Shopping Made Materialism Easy
Buying products is easier than ever. With the invent of apps like PayPal, Venmo and Square Cash, it’s so easy to shop. 30 years ago, people had to go to the store or mail a check to buy something from a catalog, but today you can shop millions of items on Amazon and pay for it without ever having to pull out your credit card. These apps have made it so much easier to be materialism because it takes very little effort.
7. Instagram & Facebook Make Us Jealous
Social media has greatly increased the materialism of society today. With social media apps like Instagram and Facebook, people are only publishing the best parts of their day. When you see your friends’ glamorous vacations and extravagant dinners, it makes you want to do opulent stuff like that too. This creates a cycle of people showing off on social media, getting jealous when they see other people showing off and then spending even more money to show off again. Social media has created this huge spike in materialism because it’s easier than ever to see what everyone else is doing.
8. Deep Down, We’re All Hoarders
Hoarding is instinctive. When people had to survive tough winters or draughts it was important for them to hoard as much food, water, and valuable goods as possible. Now the same instinctive responses to hoard goods can lead to an unhealthy materialistic lifestyle.
9. People Love Rich Celebs
Society glorifies the wealthy. Nearly all of the top celebrities or public figures today are millionaires or billionaires. There aren’t many famous people living a reasonable lifestyle. Because society puts so much emphasis on the top 1% of our population, the other 99% aspires to be like them because they seem to have it all – literally.
10. We Just Want to Fit In
Everyone else is doing it so if you can’t beat them, join them! This is the logic many people use to justify their materialism. They claim, “this is just the society we live in”, but what if we all made a choice to be just a little bit less materialistic. Maybe we would all be a little bit happier? Research shows that materialistic people have poor interpersonal relationships and exhibit less empathy. So why not try to care a little less about what you have and care a little more about the people around you and your relationships, it could catch on!