Dec 8, 2015
In a rather clever social experiment, Coby Persin turned the spotlight on human behavior and motivation. He taped 50 $1 bills to his suit; and, on a bright November day this year, he walked around Manhattan for an hour and a half. With his hands, he held up a sign that said, "Take What You Need." Some people just passed him by, but not everybody.
A well-dressed businessman stopped and took some money. When questioned if he needed it, he responded that he was taking it because it was free. A woman sporting a Louis Vuitton purse grabbed $18 for herself. When questioned if she needed it, she said, "I have a nail appointment." Clearly neither had the need to take the money. But, they did anyway.
Desiring what is needed to satisfy the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, safety and education is both a necessary and healthy attitude. But, many people desire and buy things that they really do not need. They buy on impulse, not keeping in mind their genuine needs but acting on impulse just to satiate their desire for more. This constant craving to acquire more goods beyond one's needs is the social disease of consumerism.
Consumerism knows no class distinctions. Some affluent individuals ostentatiously flaunt their wealth. They buy the most expensive watches, frequently go to the best restaurants, and constantly upgrade their homes and furniture to show others how much they are worth. Even those with little wealth do the same on a lesser scale. They buy the newest large TV screens and the latest cell phones. In almost every case, the brand name matters more than the bargain or quality of the items purchased. Why is such consumerism so prevalent today?