It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.
Seneca Epistulae Morales
Speaking of consumerism, have you heard of ‘Black Friday’ sales? They happen the day after Thanksgiving in the United States where retail shops open very early and offer promotional sales. Over the past few years, Indian markets, particularly the ones online, have followed similar routes of unbelievable sales before and after various festivals. In 2014, Flipkart held its first ‘The Big Billion Day’ sale where it claims to have sold products worth Rs.600 crores only a few hours into the day. Soon, Amazon and Snapdeal launched sales of their own, making exorbitant amounts within weeks. One should refer to the nine questions mentioned in the book “Enough by John Naish”1)http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2720886-enough which starts by “Don’t buy that thing (until you ask this nine questions).
This is just one example for the way in which India has been a sibling to the West. Other domains of similarities are fashion, movies and music (to name a few). Most Bollywood movies emulate Hollywood in some aspect or the other. Be it unnecessary and extravagant shopping sprees, getting ‘makeovers’ or living in luxurious resorts on the beach while a dude smoking tobacco plays the guitar. India has also been a country with not one or two cultures but a conglomerate of several belief systems, values, traditions and principles. Adopting first world practices to seem more ‘modern’ or ‘progressive’ is becoming increasingly common. Having said that, there is the other extreme where people aggressively hang on to so-called traditions without completely understanding the underlying meaning or significance of it all. Media, influenced and manufactured by capitalist values, plays a large role in shaping the culture we have and steering us to the West. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat have been a large presence in the younger generation’s life and since these media outlets are more or less dominated by the West, teenagers and young adults start adapting mannerisms, philosophies and values of the same. This is, of course, not exactly a bad thing. As we move towards being a more and more global society, it is only natural to adopt value systems outside of our own nation-states. But, the issue is the blind acceptance of whatever is prescribed to us by media outlets looking for personal gains.The way we dress, the way we speak, the make-up we use, the food we eat and the movies we watch become largely influenced by a group of money-minded, elitist trend-setters. And when they come across someone who doesn’t behave the same way they do, they exude a sense of superiority and look down on those who don’t wear fancy clothes, eat burgers or speak in fluent English.
There’s a new kind of discrimination based on wealth and knowledge that has been an influencing factor in shaping both the new and old generations. And, one thing is for sure. Everybody wants more and everybody wants better.
Better job, better insurance, better car, better homes, better children, better dog, better parents, better houses, better husband, better wife, better everything. This obviously in the context of what defines better for each one of us. Better is always redefined for us by the media. There is an unbearable desire infused into our minds due to a capitalist and materialistic economy that is based on more, more and more. But, where do we go for ‘more’ when there is no more?
References [ + ]