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Stercula: The new ideology: blind consumerism

BY TYLER STERCULA | SEPTEMBER 26, 2014 5:00 AM

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With the newest iterations of Apple’s iPhone released domestically on Sept. 19, Apple die-hard fans and equally as passionate opponents were sent into another heated fury. In the first three days after launch, Apple sold more than 10 million units in the iPhone 6 series. And because of several software and design specification issues, antagonists of the company voiced their opinions in seemingly equal numbers. The passion involved in our society’s ability to argue vehemently for or against — of all products — a phone is astounding. Fanaticism has taken a turn into economics in the 21st century, and it may very well be this generation’s legacy.

The dogmatism of consumerism is an infection in our economic system. When people are fighting over brands like they’re debating political or religious ideals, the line between ideology and business is blurred even more than it already was. All of this boils down to what amounts to a die-hard capitalist’s utopia: blind consumerism.

Though, unlike the expected clichés of such a horrific systematic issue, our blindness doesn’t lie in complacency but rather in fervor. The existence and voicing of passion is not what is being argued against here. Instead, the argument is against the militarization of that existing passion and the combative voices that thrust it into the world. Passion is never inherently a problematic issue. But how such zeal is expressed can create conflict where there should be none, and like other realms of consumer fanaticism, Apple supporters and opponents alike express their opinions in troubling ways.

Often, a supporter of one product has to negate the existence or support of its competitor to feel he or she has a complete argument. While the proliferation of consumer-based criticisms in recent years has been one of the best things to happen to the relationship between business and consumers, fanatics wrap criticisms in layers of spite and malice. Through a series of retaliatory periods within a given field, consumers become members of particular “sides” without realizing there was a conflict to begin with. As sides grow, so do monopolies — or at least their prenascent counterparts — which do for consumers what extreme communism would do to democracy.

Regardless of macro-societal implications of blind consumerist zeal, there are equally as damaging personal consequences. David Foster Wallace spoke about this very topic at a commencement speech for college graduates in 2005. He said, “… in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships … If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough.”

Wallace’s words act as an appropriate warning for modern day consumers: Derive meaning from nonmaterial concepts rather than material goods. I think, at the least, people need to learn not to identify themselves and others by the products they purchase but with the ideologies they follow.


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