Materialism as an Essential Problem of Modern American Society

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Materialism has become part of human nature. It has been spread throughout history and evolved into an issue that will never cease to exist. However, this is no new discovery, materialism is not a new thing. It is displayed all over the media, in magazines, and in commercials. From the dawn of time, there has been an innate competition between human beings. Whether we admit to it or not, we all have the urge to be better than those around us. Consequently, it is not just technology that people compete with. Merchandise like clothes and houses and even home appliances are just a few more. It all comes down to the fact that people are too materialistic for their own good. As an American teenager, it is fairly easy for me to say that materialism and consumption play a large roll in my own cosmology. I frequently go shopping with friends and check out the latest fashion trends and I-Phones. In my defense, when you reside in a first world country with lavish shopping malls everywhere and billboards covered in clothing models, food, and things to buy, these become the things that you aim for. Brian Swimme Stated in his writing ‘How Do Our Kids Get So Caught Up in Consumerism’, “Before a child enters first grade science class, and before entering in any real way into our religious ceremonies, a child will have soaked in 30,000 advertisements”. That child was me. I have been trained from a child to want the most popular object at the time because it was cool and would allow me fit in with other children my age. I later realized that this was not the way to live, because the bible says that idolatry is a sin. Faith is very prevalent in my life and author Paul Tillich speaks very highly of it in his piece ‘What Faith Is’. He states, “Man, like every living being, is concerned about many things, above all about those which condition his very existence, such as food and shelter”. While it is okay to own material objects such as a cell phone, it becomes an issue when people begin to buy everything that they see impulsively.

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A person from any other country may say that we are very wasteful individuals because we are not focused on the ultimate concern, they are one hundred percent correct. I am aware that in many other countries material possessions are of no importance. Instead, they focus on the self and faith. However, that does not weigh very much on my conscious of what I believe is sacred and meaningful. I have a strong belief in God and that primarily comes from my family and the way that I was raised. Tillich states, “If a national group makes the life and growth of the nation, its ultimate concern, it demands that all other concerns, economic well-being, health and life, family, aesthetic and cognitive truth, justice and humanity be sacrificed”. To me that seems excessive. To sacrifice all of that to have faith as an ultimate concern is not worth it. In other countries that may be the case but I am not that concerned with the belief systems and values of others to follow that particular route that Tillich describes.

As the anchor of society, materialism along with consumer goods have gained a significance that infringes upon the ultimate concern that should actually be focused on. Having given the assumption that consuming goods and owning possessions will make an individual happy, well-established, connected member of society has only made larger issues, that will never cease to end. With Americans largely deriving their sense of personal values, meaning and significance from obtaining material possessions, all of the 21st century is inundated.

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Materialism as an Essential Problem of Modern American Society. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
“Materialism as an Essential Problem of Modern American Society.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022,
Materialism as an Essential Problem of Modern American Society. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 May 2024].
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