A term that has come to explain the current trends of consumerism is Affluenza (first link). Affluenza involves an extreme emotional attachment to possessions and thus extreme materialism. As corporations utilize viral marketing for a faster flow of goods as well as expanding trade to global levels, that act of consumption eventually becomes an act of product-fetishism–that feeling of “needing” a product that isn’t truly essential for life. Moreover, this style of marketing creates a desire for the consumer to have the best items, and with technology this becomes quickly apparent with new generations of “better technology.” The second link begins to exemplify this trend as it was observed in China and the U.S., observing objects, housing and general human activity as it relates to Affluenza.
It can affect people’s personal relationships to a large extent. With modern marketing and consumerism, a girl might not think a guy loves her if he doesn’t buy her a diamond ring, when in reality he might just think the money would be better used on her long term well being or something of that matter. It happens with friends too. In high school (back when my friends and I were all so smart and mature), one of my friends was scared to hang out with a certain group of girls simply because they all had expensive Juicy or Gucci bags. I admit that for a while I was jealous of one of my friends because her rich grandmother bought her all sorts of nice clothes. An obsession with material objects can potentially come between friends or lovers.
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