Consumerism: Affluenza and Regular Bouts of Temporary Amnesia

This post is written by Lucille, a staff writer for My Broken Coin. 

It’s official – I’m suffering from affluenza and regular bouts of temporary amnesia. I say this as I find myself in an ever increasing consumeristic mindset. The particular strain of affluenza I have succumbed to is aspirational. I can’t afford full blown affluence yet and I sometimes forget that I have a lot of good stuff that makes for a comfortable life. But I want more….more goods, gadgets and toys to come into my life but, right at this moment, it’s not an option and cannot be for a long time… least until I achieve full solvency and rehabilitate my debt wish!

The easy methods of racking up debt is a sign of a deep, societal malady. Easy credit means we spend, spend, spend. Affluenza  is a socially transmitted disease and we wouldn’t suffer as much if we were hermits living in caves. It’s like an airborne virus and anyone with a nose for hunting down the best bargains will sooner or later catch it. It’s only when governments apply austerity measures that we remember to slow down. Cutting back is a cruel reminder that we have over-consumed and now have to pay for it.

Economists and psychologists advise that the rise of materialism leads to greater inequality resulting in unhappiness. In addition, overwork, stress and anxiety  aggravates the condition until affluenza is like the common cold. My question is…. when has society ever been equal? I’m far above and far below some of my planet sharers in terms of income and influence.

Keeping up with the Jones’ is becoming a thing of the past. Firstly, we don’t really know who lives in our neighbourhood anymore and, whatever they have, we only wonder if it was acquired by legitimate means. I don’t think we covet our neighbours’ goods since we don’t have enough time for gossiping at the garden gate. Desperate housewives are the paragons of affluenza:  idle, rich, married and dysfunctional – that’s the 21st century Mrs Jones and she’s finding that the neighbours are keeping up nicely – thank you!

Affluence provides opportunities, freedom and visible signs of economic progress though satisfaction is not part of the package. We’re still not happy bunnies as we strive for more and we rarely feel that we have enough. In truth, we probably have a lot more than we need or want but the affluenza bug weakens the will.

Less is definitely not more if you’ve ever travelled to impoverished places where vulnerable families live in two roomed shacks with poor sanitation, well below the breadline, eking out a living on rubbish dumps, you’ll have noticed that their social exchanges are rich. They care about each other. They share whatever they have and that includes a smile. They may be down trodden but they are not down hearted. Their life force is strong as they battle through adversity. Though many will always be victims of circumstance they believe in God and future prosperity.

We’ve never had to so good and that’s the main cause of our collective amnesia. We just don’t remember what it’s like not to have a job, money, enough food, car, insurance, mobile phone, PC or plain-old fashioned boredom. That’s what you call lucky and I guess we live in a paradise of sorts.

Affluence provides an elite membership to the “haves” club.  Our forefathers paved the way for a brave new world of riches and the least we can do is enjoy it. Western civilisation has become a little sick at heart. We want progress but when it comes it feels like millstone around our necks.  We have dual incomes/cars, multiple cells, homes, condos, domestic help, foreign travel, eating out, shopping, nail art, tattoos but there’s a hole inside of us. Within, we’re unfulfilled but for our dream and desires to be curbed or realised it can take a few lifetimes.

Over-thinking is also a sign of excess. We plan, prepare, prioritise, organise, evaluate, discuss (endlessly) until we hit burnout. As we breakdown we get full-blown amnesia and stare at our credit statement in disbelief when it arrives. We drown in whirlpools of guilt as we ruminate on those”little things” that have cost us dear.

Insecurity is a constant inner driver and he/she is a workaholic! Affluence has not provided us with a good night’s sleep or the ability to enjoy one day at a time. Still, we can’t go backwards and the only thing ahead of us is the open road.

I’ll take the high road, no matter what challenges it brings, but I’ll bless the low road so that I can still be humbled by life’s largesse. For now, I’ll protect myself against the bitter backlash of affluenza with a large dose of daily gratitude. It’ll take a ton of conscious effort (and memory) to stop the onslaught of taking-it-for-granted it is but I know I can do it – atishoo!