ZIA on affluenza

ZIA has published an article by Jocelyn Green talking about affluenza — a very seldom considered topic in our (artificially?) prosperous America. Much of the piece rehashes things I’d thought about and researched in the last few years, but there were some new tidbits:

  • Cosmetics companies tell us we’re “worth it,” and Target’s latest TV commercial is set to the repetitive jingle, “A little bit more, a little bit more.” My personal favorite in the category of blatant appeal to vanity is the magazine ad for “The New Diamond Right Hand Ring” which reads: “Your left hand says ‘we.’ Your right hand says ‘me.’”
  • The average North American consumes five times more than a Mexican, ten times more than a Chinese person and 30 times more than a person from India. As De Graaf says, it’s as if we are suffering from some kind of Willpower Deficiency Syndrome, a breakdown in affluenza immunity. When you’re never satisfied with your stuff but keep shopping anyway, you’ve probably reached the addiction stage. Shopping on this level is almost always to a futile attempt to fill some sort of void.In 1991, Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan figured that out and sold off three of his homes, 30 antique automobiles and his Detroit Tigers baseball team. He was quoted as saying, “None of the things I’ve bought, and I mean none of them, have ever really made me happy.”Monaghan got it right. Although people today are, on average, four-and-a-half times richer than our great-grandparents were at the turn of the century, Americans report feeling “significantly less well off” than in 1958. And research from the 1999-2001 World Values Survey suggests that the more consumer goods you have, the more you think you need to make you happy. Happiness through consumption is always out of reach.

Read the article in its entirety via this link.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at pcNielsen.com.

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