Cultural Cancer


Consumerism, beautifully ugly it has us in a choke hold. Like a strong rip, the easy thing to do is just go with it and wait for someone to save us. Over the last century societies have become servants of consumerism and giving the orders are the commercial giants, constantly brainwashing us into thinking we NEED their products and that we must keep up with current trends. As we are told to keep our economies a float we must go out and buy countless amounts of useless shit, and theres no turning back now. How did we get here? And so quickly too!


This wasn’t always the way, there used to be a day when the majority of society focused on the necessities to survive, and only the wealthy could indulge in the luxuries of consuming. As industrialization introduced new technologies and access to goods increased, mass production took hold of society, and traditional social classes began to blur. With the birth of industrialization and mass production came fierce competition. “new technologies had resulted in production of more goods, but there were not enough people to buy them. Since production is such an essential part of the culture of capitalism, society quickly adapted to the crisis by convincing people to buy things, by altering basic institutions and even generating a new ideology of pleasure.” – Richard Robbins, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, (Allyn and Bacon, 1999), p. 210. 


As new signs of social status started to develop, encouraged by a new found emphasis of taste and fashionableness, companies started turning to designers make their products “look good”, and the advertisement industry emerged as a leading industry in feeding the consumer culture we are so submerged in today. Advertisement first made its impact with the start of department stores, where people could go look through collections of makers and brands. This competition saw the birth of elaborate displays and ways of telling people how they should dress, what they should have and what they should be doing with their leisure time. “The goal of the advertisers was to aggressively shape consumer desires and create value in commodities by imbuing them with the power to transform the consumer into a more desirable person.” – Richard Robbins, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, (Allyn and Bacon, 1999), p. 15. 


We have found ourselves in a culture that obsesses over new things and making our lives more desirable in the eyes of our peers, ambitions are fueled by greed and success judged on possessions. We are infected with cultural cancer, as this problem of intense consumerism keeps getting bigger and bigger. While we sit here watching countless advertisements, future generations are being brainwashed into a future controlled by consumerism. Commercial giants are stripping our earth of natural resources faster than they can replenish, and with the products we buy being put to waste at alarming rates, there is no way we can keep this going for much longer. Something needs to change, and it needs to change now.



Sparke, Penny, Jan 04, 2013, An Introduction to Design and Culture: 1900 to the Present 

Taylor and Francis, Hoboken

Richard Robbins, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, (Allyn and Bacon, 1999)