Consuming everything could mean feeling nothing

By Clara Snyder | Staff Writer

There are very few things in life that can be said to be true of everyone, including the idea that the human race was designed to be an exclusive collection of beings existing in unique ways. However, there is one thing that we all have in common and are given equal access to: time.

“The important thing to you is not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years,” an advertisement said in 1947.

Life is largely a compilation of choices. Most of the decisions we make on a daily basis during our free time have to do with consumption — social media consumption, product consumption and entertainment consumption.

It’s no secret that feelings of depression, intense loneliness and emptiness have spiked in recent years. Many might point to social media to blame for this, but it’s not alone in leading the world to feeling empty.

While there is a majority, I argue that the increase in feelings of depression across the United States correlates more strongly with the consumer culture present in America. American consumerism began escalating after World War II, according to PBS, and has evolved into a lifestyle that captivates our society.

“The consumerist lifestyles endemic in ‘modern’ cultures are the cause of discontent, disharmony, depression and division,” Dr. Sandra Carlisle and Dr. Phil Hanlon wrote in the Health Promotion International journal. “Elements within the critical discourse suggest that, in modern consumer societies, we lead shallow and individualized lives, characterized by trivial values and the loss of deeper purpose.”

New innovations bring new ways to devour information. On an average day, how much time do you spend consuming? It may be exhausting through social media, material items, entertainment or anything beyond the necessities we need to survive. All of these things bring immediate but temporary joy, and they lead to unforeseen consequences.

“In high-income countries, depression and other neuropsychiatric conditions account for more of the disease burden than heart disease or cancer,” Richard Eckersley wrote in the International Journal of Epidemiology. “We are falling short of maximizing human wellbeing, despite falling mortality and rising life expectancy and material wealth.”

Even though times have changed, opinions on consumer culture need to shift as well. The way that we spend our valuable time and the resources we devote to unfulfilling endeavors are impacting our culture in an alarming way, as they seep into the minds that will determine our future. In the end, watch how you spend your time and what you absorb daily.