The Materialistic World (2015)
The Materialistic World
Chapter 3: Materialism and the Youth
It might be true that you are not a materialistic person at all, but it may be hard to say the same for your children, or the next generation. Many teens in the US have the financial capability, through their parents, to buy what they need and want. They also have a great deal of energy to shop. You could say that they are in a good shape and ideally positioned to spend money and be materialistic. While not all teenagers have sworn allegiance to materialism, many easily fall into the clutches of a materialistic viewpoint. If you want to know how teenagers are being affected by the strong wave of materialism, this will prove to be the most influential chapter.
Low Probability of Working Hard
When adolescents become extremely materialistic, they tend to lose zealousness and passion for many other things. It’s not that they suddenly lose the skills to accomplish the tasks assigned to them, or that they do not like what they are doing. Rather the problem is that, since they are solely focused on getting things, they will only pay attention to issues that can help them get what they want. It could be a new smartphone, laptop, tablet, shoes, shirt, or any other material thing which they consider to be precious.
In general, teens have become lazy, because if they are not rewarded with a brand new “toy” or the latest clothing line, they won’t do what they are told. They become overgrown children and they won’t be driven enough to accomplish great feats. Even though they are just teenagers, they can contribute positively and significantly to the world, or at least, to their own community.
Once they have acquired what they have been “dreaming” of, they will stop working as hard as they once did. They stick to short-term goals because these are relatively easy to achieve. Since they are behaving in such a way during adolescence, it's likely they will behave in the same way once they are older. They will only exert more effort at the office because they are saving up for that brand new phone or a more advanced laptop or game console. Their finish lines are too close to the starting line, preventing them from becoming fighters, and rendering them mere 50-meter dash racers who cease to train once they get their trophy in hand.
Low Self-Esteem as the Root and the Fruit
A 2006 study conducted by marketing professors at the University of Illinois showed that children with low self-esteem have a higher chance of becoming materialistic. The kids with low self-esteem use material items to produce happiness, but children with high self-esteem gained happiness through friendships, playing, being great at sports, and by helping others.
Parents can’t blame materialism on the advertisers or on the media alone. As parents or guardians, they are responsible for their own children’s character-development.
Low self-esteem can also be the fruit of materialism. Even if a teenager was once confident, if he eventually associates his importance or greatness as an individual with the things he possesses, it will be a pretty quick trip to having an inferiority complex. He won’t always have the latest or the best, and once he realizes this, he will be depressed and have low self-esteem. Materialism is an evil gardener. It plants a weed that may look like a harmless plant, but this plant will just waste the nutrients in the soil and choke the other plants around it. Materialism will destroy a person’s life, and it can ruin a teen’s life, even faster as compared to an adult’s, as teens are so much more impressionable and sensitive to the opinions of their peers.
Misdirected and Meaningless Goals
Teenagers are primarily focused on fitting in, and not planning on having a great future. They do not focus on performing well in school and in other community programs because they are not going to get that new phone they have wanted. They are concerned about their image and they will do just about anything to preserve and improve that good image. Even at such a young age, these individuals have firmly established the desire for material goods, which is quite troubling.
It’s not that most teenagers do not have goals, but the goals they will share with others do not often appear to be aims that will have a long-term positive effect on their lives and on the people around them. Adolescents need all the guidance and help they can get. Unfortunately, they won’t admit that they need assistance, particularly when they are too busy thinking of what to buy next and how they can buy them.
It’s the parent's responsibility to make sure that their children’s fundamental viewpoints in life are built on a good and sensible foundation. It’s not going to be an easy battle to win against materialism. With guidance and awareness, these materialistic young individuals can still be reformed. It takes time and effort, but it’s not an impossible task.
The November 2011 edition of the Scientific World Journal contained a research paper which found a third of materialistic teens in Hong Kong would actually consider engaging in unethical activities just to get money to buy what they want. Such unethical behavior included being a companion for money. Surprisingly, 34 percent of the survey respondents said they would seriously consider that option. Out of the 34 percent of teens who were already engaging in “compensated dating,” nearly 17 percent got into a sexual relationship.
Being materialistic is already considered unethical by the general population, because as we already know that money and material possessions can’t give us sustainable happiness. Of course, more unethical behavior will stem from materialistic inclinations and compulsions. This goes for each and every one of us, not only teenagers. In time, the desperation or intense desire to get new things will lead a person to do what he thought he could never do. Ethics and character are thrown out of the window because materialism has entered the house.